City of Toronto Calls Upon 49,000 Toronto Real Estate Board Members to Help Find Locations for New Emergency Shelters

TORONTO, FEBRUARY 28, 2018 – The City of Toronto's Shelter, Support & Housing Administration (SSHA) and Real Estate Services (RES) are looking for new shelter sites to better meet the demand for emergency beds. They are working in partnership with the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) to identify properties that will meet the City of Toronto's shelter criteria. 

During the 2018 Budget deliberations last month, Councillor Wong-Tam successfully passed a motion that advanced three years of funding for a minimum of 1,000 shelter beds to be made available in the 2018 calendar year. This was an increase from the Budget Committee recommendations, which originally approved the opening of 121 new and 170 replacement shelter beds in 2018.  It was an important step as the City looks to expand and improve the shelter system.

"The demand for emergency shelter beds has grown by 30% in the past year and the overcrowding in shelter system is at a crisis point," said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam. "The City of Toronto will require professional assistance to secure the physical real estate to open 1,000 new shelters beds in one year.  I am pleased that TREB has reached out to its sizeable membership to support us in this city-wide search."

"The Toronto Real Estate Board is pleased to work closely with the City of Toronto to ensure everyone has adequate shelter," said John DiMichele, CEO of the Toronto Real Estate Board. "It is also a priority for TREB to help address the need for affordable housing. We look forward to working with the City on both short and long-term solutions in this regard." 

On February 26, 2018, a memo went out to over 49,000 Toronto Real Estate Board members to join in identifying potential shelter locations across Toronto. The criteria for the new shelter buildings:

  • For purchase or a lease (purchase is preferable, if lease, minimum of 10 years);
  • Located in any area of Toronto, minimum 20,000 square feet to include space for programming areas for clients, staff, and community members
  • Complies with applicable zoning provisions, including Municipal Shelter By-law as applicable
  • Close to 24-hour public transit
  • On or within 80 metres of a major/minor arterial road
  • A main floor building, or a building with an elevator or space to add an elevator if one does not exist, to meet accessibility requirements

Other elements ideal to have in place prior to purchase or lease: commercial kitchen next to loading dock, central shipping, receiving, and storage area, and near community centre, library, health services, and drop-in programs.

Each night Toronto has 7,000 individuals sleeping outside or in the shelter system, and the number is expected to grow.  The estimates on how many new permanent shelter beds are needed to respond to meet shelter standards and current needs, exceeds 1,000. The city’s winter drop-in system is scheduled remain open until April 15, 2018, as well as the volunteer-led Out Of the Cold programs at faith-based organizations across the city. These closures will increase demand on the already-strained permanent shelter system.

Persons with real estate leads can contact the City's Real Estate Services staff with details.


Loretta Ramadhin, Project Manager, 416-392-7169, [email protected]

David Jollimore, Director, 416-392-8217, [email protected]


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Media interviews available upon request.  

Please contact: Lisa Brody Hoffman, Advisor, Community Engagement,

Councillor Wong-Tam, 416-392-7903, [email protected].


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