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March 3, 2006
Ending homelessness is goal of Street Needs Assessment
Ending homelessness was the subject of today’s news conference where the City of Toronto began a drive to recruit volunteers to conduct the Street Needs Assessment. Up to 1,500 volunteers will be needed to conduct the survey on the evening and night of April 19, 2006.

“Our ultimate goal is to help people end their homelessness,” said Phil Brown, General Manager of the City’s Shelter, Support and Housing Administration division. “The Street Needs Assessment is a new tool that we will use to help us achieve this goal,” said Brown.

Toronto City Council directed that the number and service needs of homeless persons living on Toronto’s streets and in its public spaces be determined. The purpose of the Street Needs Assessment is to better understand the number and service needs of homeless individuals, so that City-funded programs and services are best suited to help these individuals end their homelessness. The information from the survey will be used to improve the ways in which services to people who are homeless and living outdoors and in shelters are planned and delivered.

The City is reaching out to the public and asking people to volunteer for approximately five hours on the evening and night of April 19. Members of the public do not require any specific qualifications to participate in the Street Needs Assessment. They can volunteer in a number of ways:

  • Register by phone by calling 416-397-4401, or
  • Fill out an application form and email it to or
  • Fax an application form to 416 338-1144 or
  • Mail an application form to Street Needs Assessment, 55 John Street, Metro Hall, 6th Floor, Toronto, Ontario, M5V 3C6

To conduct the Street Needs Assessment, the city will be divided into different study areas. Each study area will be assigned a study team with a team leader and two or three volunteers. The study teams will be responsible for conducting the survey in their respective areas. The teams will speak with homeless individuals and ask them if they would be interested in completing a short survey.

Homeless people living outside will be surveyed, as well as homeless people in shelters. The survey may also include hospitals, treatment centres and detention centres. A detailed survey will occur in the core of Toronto. Outside the core, a sample survey will be conducted in a number of areas where homeless persons are known to be living outdoors.

The survey will collect information on the type of locations where the individual is staying, demographic characteristics, length of time the person has been homeless, the types of services used, the person’s interest in housing, the sorts of services needed to end the person’s homelessness, and what type of help is needed with income, health or addictions.

Study teams will receive materials in advance of the Street Needs Assessment and mandatory training will be provided to all volunteers on the evening of the Street Needs Assessment on how to conduct the survey.

The City is collaborating with community agencies on the Street Needs Assessment. The City’s Street Outreach Steering Committee has representatives from 34 community agencies and various City Divisions and helped create the approach for the Street Needs Assessment.

“Through the Street Needs Assessment, we look forward to gathering additional information on the housing needs of individuals living outside, so that we can refine our approach to better plan for and meet housing needs of homeless individuals,” said Susan Meikle, member of the Street Outreach Steering Committee and Executive Director of Toronto North Support Services, a community agency providing mental health and street outreach services in the North York area.

The Street Needs Assessment will not identify the specific location of any homeless individual. All team leaders and volunteers will sign a confidentiality agreement. Results of the survey will only be reported out at the City-wide or Community Council district level or by type of location.

The findings of the Street Needs Assessment will be reported to Community Services Committee and then to City Council in July 2006.

The volunteer application form for the Street Needs Assessment and additional information can be found on the City’s Street Needs Assessment Web page at

Media contact:

Deborah Blackstone
Corporate Communications



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