Skip to content

Finding Emergency Shelter

I am new to Canada and have no housing. Where should I go?
If you move to Canada and you have no housing options, or if you have lost your housing while here, you might need to seek housing in an emergency shelter. An emergency shelter is a place that give people without housing somewhere to stay. An emergency shelter usually has many people staying together. It is short-term but it might offer services to help you find a long-term housing option.

How do I find a shelter?
• If you live in Toronto, you can go to the City of Toronto website or call Central Intake. Central Intake is a City-operated, 24/7 telephone-based service that helps people find a bed in an emergency shelter. The number is 1-877-338-3398. Central Intake will look for beds in family shelters, shelters for single women and single men, and shelters for youth 16 years and older.
• If you are looking for shelters or group homes specifically for refugee claimants, go to this website, which provides a list of shelters that you can contact directly.
• If you live outside of Toronto, call 311 to look for an emergency shelter.

What help will I get while living in a shelter?
When you get to the shelter, there will be 24/7 shelter staff members to help you. Soon you should get a case worker who can help you with your needs and to plan for the future.
• Every shelter will have different services. You will be told about the services at your shelter after you arrive. These services might include healthcare, help finding permanent housing, access to education, help finding a job etc.

Can I go to a youth only shelter?
If you call to find emergency shelter and you are between the ages of 16-24, you will probably be placed in a Youth Shelter.
• If there are no beds available in any of the youth shelters, you might be placed in an adult shelter. You can speak to the staff at the shelter where you are placed if you have any questions or concerns about your shelter placement.
• You can search for a youth shelter in your area on this website

What is it like to stay at a shelter?
• All shelters are set up in their own way. You should expect to share your bedroom, bathroom and common areas with other residents. Common areas might include a kitchen, living room and/or dining areas. You will probably be provided free meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and a space to do laundry. Some shelters let you do your own cooking.
• Depending on the shelter you are staying in, there might be recreational activities. You can choose to attend these activities. You can also choose to spend the day outside of the shelter.
• There will likely be a designated wake up time, when you have to get out of bed and start your day.
• You will meet many new people at a shelter, both other residents and shelter staff.

Read more about what to expect at emergency shelters and your rights at a shelter on this website