The winter weather will soon hit Toronto, and with it those already living with homelessness in the city will be at risk. Some have deemed the city of Toronto’s winter plan to help the city’s homeless population inadequate, and there will be great reliance on homelessness organizations to fill in the gaps. And helping with donations to these groups could be the best way for Toronto residents to help as well.
A recent Reddit post entitled “People Who Used to Be Homeless in Toronto Who Helped You Most?” saw Torontonians on the streets and otherwise opening up about organizations they say played an instrumental role in their journey towards stability.
“I want to donate directly to an organization that actually helps Torontonians escape homelessness. Who helped you the most and how?” the creator of the thread inquired.
Amongst the homelessness organizations repeatedly praised by users were Streets to Homes, Covenant House and community-centric groups like Yonge Street Mission and Fred Victor, this compilation aims to highlight the essential services of these groups and others to inform readers on how to best support these historic community pillars.
Below is a snapshot of 10 Toronto organizations that play a critical role in offering shelter, food, and pathways to get members of the city’s homeless population back on their feet and how you can help them achieve their goals.
Streets To Home
Since its inception in 2005, Streets to Homes in Toronto has been dedicated to supporting those experiencing homelessness. They offer a diverse range of services, including street outreach, mental health support, and housing assistance. For those interested in helping, collaboration opportunities are available.
You can directly contact the organizations working with Streets to Homes, such as Albion Neighborhood Services, The Salvation Army Gateway Outreach Team, Agincourt Community Services, YMCA, NaMeRes, and M-Dot. Each organization focuses on specific areas or groups within Toronto, providing targeted support. Contact information for these organizations is available on their respective websites.
Covenant House, established in 1982, provides vital support to vulnerable youth. Their downtown crisis shelter at 20 Gerrard St. East offers 24/7 assistance to youth aged 16 to 24, including meals, clothing, and counselling. Specialized support for sex trafficking survivors, healthcare services, and community support are also key components of their offerings. Over its 40-year history, Covenant House has expanded its services to include education, employment programs, and housing for trafficking victims.
To support their mission, various avenues are available, such as donations, participating in fundraising events, and corporate partnerships. The community can also engage by volunteering or becoming a mentor, contributing significantly to the lives of these young individuals.
Yonge Street Mission
Yonge Street Mission (YSM), established in 1896, is a pivotal organization in Toronto dedicated to helping those experiencing poverty. YSM operates with a focus on providing comprehensive support to individuals, families, and communities afflicted by poverty, using a holistic care model adapted to their unique needs.
For those looking to support YSM’s mission, there are several ways to help:
- Corporate matching gifts
- E-Transfer donations
- Gifts of appreciated stock or securities
- Legacy giving
- Monthly giving
- Tribute giving
YSM also accepts gifts cards, toiletry items, and other products, and encourages volunteer work and community engagement in supporting their mission.
“My family volunteered at the Yonge Street Mission and attended their church all throughout my childhood. They do really great work for not just people experiencing homelessness but also newcomers and people living on low incomes,” a Redditor boasted about the organization.
Evangel Hall Mission
Evangel Hall Mission (EHM) has been a vital part of the Toronto community since its inception in 1913. Originally established at 573 Queen Street West, EHM has evolved over the decades to meet the changing needs of the community. Initially serving as a soup kitchen during the Great Depression, it transformed into a settlement and family support centre post-World War II, and later into an adult Drop-In for the influx of single adults in the 1960s.
EHM’s services embrace a holistic approach, addressing physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being, with programs including a Residence Program for affordable housing, a Dental Clinic for free oral healthcare, Drop-In services for immediate physical and social needs, Financial Trusteeship for financial literacy and money management, and a Spiritual Care Program to aid those struggling with trauma and anxiety.
For those wishing to support EHM’s mission, several options are available:
- Career Opportunities
- Student Placements
- Participation in Events
Throughout its history, EHM has consistently adapted to the shifting dynamics of poverty and homelessness in Toronto, continuously expanding its services and outreach to provide a beacon of hope and safety for those in need.
West Neighbourhood House
West Neighbourhood House, formerly St. Christopher House, has been a pivotal part of downtown west Toronto since its inception in 1912. This secular, non-profit organization addresses a wide range of social issues, serving over 15,000 people annually. Its programs span across multiple age groups and backgrounds, focusing on homelessness, poverty, literacy, aging, health, and more.
The Meeting Place, part of West Neighbourhood House, provides targeted support to those facing homelessness and inadequate housing, offering services like showers, laundry, harm reduction, and mental health support.
Supporting West Neighbourhood House can be done in multiple ways: through bulk donations of needed items, financial contributions to aid their various programs, volunteering time and skills, or by donating securities, stocks, bonds, and vehicles.
Inquiries about giving in-kind can be made via email at [email protected] or by calling 416-532-4828.
Fred Victor, a cornerstone in Toronto for 128 years, is a registered charitable organization dedicated to ending homelessness. Supporting over 3,000 people daily, Fred Victor offers extensive programs including affordable and transitional housing, emergency shelters, and other vital services for individuals facing poverty or homelessness. Their mission emphasizes improving health, income, and housing stability.
Services provided by Fred Victor encompass housing and shelter for individuals and families in extreme poverty or homelessness. They also connect community members to essential food programs and healthcare services, including mental health and addiction support. Furthermore, Fred Victor offers various training programs aimed at securing sustainable and meaningful employment for those in need.
To aid Fred Victor’s enduring mission, contributions can be made in several ways:
- Monetary donations
- Shopping support catalogue
- Item donations
- Team volunteering
With a history spanning over a century, Fred Victor’s commitment to addressing and alleviating homelessness and poverty in Toronto is integral to the community, providing both immediate support and fostering long-term stability for those they serve.
“Love Fred victor. They helped with some legal stuff when I wasn’t eligible for legal aid,” wrote one Redditor about the organization.
Good Shepherd Ministries
Good Shepherd Ministries, a beacon of hope in Toronto since 1963, stands out for its commitment to treating each person who walks through its doors with care and respect. Celebrating 60 years of service, Good Shepherd has evolved from offering basic necessities like food and shelter to a wide range of supportive services aimed at combating homelessness and promoting human dignity.
Their services include providing meals, clean clothes, and safe shelter, as well as eviction prevention, assistance in finding housing, and follow-up support. They also cater to specific groups like Veterans at risk of homelessness and support men overcoming addictions. In collaboration with community partners, Good Shepherd offers comprehensive healthcare services, including nursing, foot care, vision care, and more, alongside pastoral care for those who seek it.
To support Good Shepherd Ministries in their mission to aid Toronto’s homeless and marginalized communities, contributions can be made in various forms: Legacy Gifts to ensure long-term impact, donations of urgently needed goods such as food and hygiene items, and direct monetary donations.
Founded in 1989 by Eva Smith, Eva’s provides essential shelter, transitional housing, and support programs to nearly 200 youths aged 16 to 24 in Toronto. The homelessness organization, operating across four sites, focuses on helping young people move from crisis to stability and independence, particularly addressing the needs of Black youth through culturally responsive and trauma-informed programs.
Eva’s offers a range of services including emergency shelter (Eva’s Place), temporary hotel shelter (Eva’s Satellite), transitional housing and employment training (Eva’s Phoenix), and community-based housing for Black youth (Youth Belong). They were recognized as one of the Top 10 Impact: Canadian Youth Charities of 2022.
Their programs encompass employment training, educational support, an Independent Living Program, harm reduction supports, and a Recreation Program. To support their mission, Eva’s welcomes financial donations, bequests, gifts of stock, monthly contributions, item donations, and fundraising efforts, playing a crucial role in addressing youth homelessness in Toronto.
“They also have a print shop that they run as a social enterprise and they do holiday cards every year,” a Redditor noted about the operation.
The Gateway, part of The Salvation Army’s Toronto Housing and Homeless Supports, has been a pivotal support system since its initial incarnation as the Friendship Room over two decades ago. Officially opening its current facility at 107 Jarvis St. on Valentine’s Day in 2000, The Gateway operates as a 120-bed emergency shelter and drop-in center for those experiencing homelessness and marginalization in Toronto. With a guiding philosophy that everyone needs a home, a job, and a friend, The Gateway provides more than just shelter; it fosters community and offers social enterprise opportunities to effect positive change in the lives of its residents.
Those looking to support The Gateway can contribute through online donations via The Salvation Army’s website. These contributions are vital in enabling The Gateway to continue its crucial work of offering shelter, building community, and aiding in the personal growth and stability of those they serve.
Turning Point Youth Services, originating as Mercury Youth Services in 1976, represents a collective of homelessness organizations unified to enhance support for youth. This includes Clifton Youth Services since 1996, Toronto Group Homes and Yorklea Youth Services since 1997, and The Boys’ Home programs since 2001, broadening their capacity for residential services and support for youth with legal conflicts or behavioral challenges.
With a vision for “Healthy Minds, Healthy Futures,” Turning Point focuses on empowering youth through diversity, respect, and inclusivity. Their services prioritize each individual’s strengths and foster positive relationships with youth and families. Donations to Turning Point are vital, aiding in educational support, residential facility maintenance, and worker training, all contributing to transformative impacts on the lives of youth in need.