Homes First was established in 1983 using the housing first approach- providing a homeless person with a stable living environment as the first step to a meaningful recovery. We encourage homeless people to identify their own housing needs and necessary support services. We were the first and remain one of the largest providers of non-profit housing for the homeless in the City of Toronto.
Shuter Street opened its doors to residents in 1984 as the first building in Toronto to house previously homeless single people. Three years later, during the International Year of Shelter for the Homeless, it won an Ontario award for Outstanding Model Project.
In 1989, Homes First opened “StreetCity”. The converted warehouse was designed as a self-contained village complete with streets, housing units, a variety store and an internally run ‘bank’. It was created by staff and residents as an alternative to the traditional shelters that were often overcrowded, unsafe and intolerant of people with severe mental health and addictions. StreetCity became home to seventy men and women who had never accessed the emergency housing system. The first of its kind, it became a model for other projects in Canada and the United States including one of our own, Strachan House.
Homes First currently operates 3 shelters and 13 housing sites providing a home and support to more than 550 seniors, families, and single adults. Our shelters and housing projects are all located throughout the Greater Toronto Area.