Today, Toronto City Council approved the creation of more than 600 new emergency shelter spaces for refugees and refugee claimants by approving a recommendation by City staff to execute an agreement with the hotel at 3 Park Home Ave. in North York.
Refugee occupancy in the shelter system has been steadily increasing since September 2021, driven largely by the border reopening and easing of international travel restrictions. In the first half of 2022, an average of 55 new refugee arrivals per week accessed Toronto’s shelter system. There are currently more than 1,800 refugee clients in shelters. Despite adding 750 new spaces for refugees and refugee claimants in the spring of 2022, demand continues to grow. Current trends are consistent with the significant surge of new refugee and refugee claimant arrivals experienced by Toronto’s shelter system in 2018 and 2019.
In response to this growing need, the City of Toronto continues to implement City Council’s direction to create a refugee-specific shelter sector that operates parallel to the existing shelter system. Refugee-serving programs are distinct, as they include wrap-around supports that are specifically geared towards helping refugees and refugee claimants get established and build connections in the community. By establishing the new program at 3 Park Home Ave., it will also free up space in the City’s base shelter system by allowing refugees currently in non-refugee specific shelters to move to the new site.
Supports provided at 3 Park Home Ave. will be based on individual needs, and will include help with the settlement process and case coordination with legal services, assistance with finding permanent housing, employment and education supports, and referrals to healthcare and mental health supports, and other community services. Recreation activities will also be offered on-site to engage residents and children. In addition, the City has made contact with the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board to help support the children and youth at the site to smoothly transition into local schools.
The total cost for the City is approximately $80 million over five years. Corporate Real Estate Management (CREM) division will oversee the agreement in accordance with recommendations put forward in the City Auditor’s report “Audit of Emergency Shelters: Lessons Learned from Hotel Operations” (http://app.toronto.ca/tmmis/viewAgendaItemHistory.do?item=2022.AU12.2), approved by Council on June 16, 2022.
More information about the proposed refugee shelter at 3 Park Home Ave. is available on the City’s Shelter Replacement & Expansion Projects webpage: www.toronto.ca/3parkhome.
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit www.toronto.ca or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/CityofToronto, on Instagram at www.instagram.com/cityofto or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cityofto.