toronto lgbt shelter

Toronto is getting a brand new shelter only for members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community

Queer adults in need of transitional housing will, as of this week, have a new place to go in Toronto that caters specifically to members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community, with a specific focus on trans women and refugees.

Funded by the City of Toronto, operated by the Homes First Society and with support from The 519, the new shelter in the city's west end will provide beds for up to 20 people at a time, supplying those most in need of temporary housing with a place to stay and additional supports.

"Homes First Society is a provider of affordable, stable housing and support services while the 519 is Canada's most prominent 2SLGBTQ+ multi-service agency," explained the City of Toronto in a press release announcing the new facility on Wednesday.

"The city provided $30,000 to The 519 to help support the development of a comprehensive program model to best support the clients on site along with a one-time start-up amount of nearly $121,000 to support initial site renovations. The city is also providing an annual operating budget."

With more and more people being driven out of their homes due to rising rent prices and the inflation of basic necessities, Toronto is dealing with a serious shelter crisis — more now so than ever as the city closes down temporary hotel shelter sites used during the COVID pandemic.

Adult emergency shelters and respites were at 98 per cent capacity as of just a few weeks ago, on November 7 — and that was before winter weather had even reared its head in earnest.

According to the city's most-recent Street Needs Assessment, some 12 per cent of all people experiencing homelessness in Toronto identify as 2SLGBTQ+.

"These numbers are likely an under-representation due to several factors including a reluctance to disclose one’s identity as well as access shelter programs due to concerns about safety and discrimination," notes the city.

"The shelter is an integral step to ensuring queer strength and resiliency and a response to systemic barriers."

The new shelter, an address for which has yet to be publicized, will incorporate "an innovative model focused on building inclusive shelter standards that centre the safety, wellbeing and affirmation of 2SLGBTQ+ community members," according to the city.

The program model used within this new facility was designed so that it can be replicated in the future as needed to futher meet the needs of vulnerable Queer Torontonians.

"This new shelter addresses community concerns identified including a lack of dedicated shelter supports for 2SLGBTQ+ adults; violence and discrimination experienced by trans people, particularly women, in the shelter system; and the stigma and barriers faced by refugees when they come to Canada," reads the city's release.

"The needs of LGBTQ+ newcomers are also unique as they often have limited resources to begin anew in Canada and may not able to rely on local cultural communities for support due to their sexual and/or gender identities. This new shelter space will not only provide LGBTQ+ newcomers with critical supports, but also be a welcoming first home in Canada."

Lead photo by

Keith Armstrong

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