Homes First develops and provides affordable, stable housing and support services to break the cycle of homelessness for people with the fewest housing options.
The vast majority of people experiencing homelessness – even those with severe mental health and/or substance use issues – can successfully stay housed and off the street with appropriate housing and supports.
Far too many Toronto residents are experiencing homelessness or extreme housing precarity, due mainly to a chronic shortage of affordable housing options, as well as ineffectual social supports to meet complex needs. Worse still, the high needs of homeless adults are being further compounded by age-related illnesses and health conditions.
Homes First is working towards closing these gaps and helping residents maintain their housing by providing a program that delivers high supports and that would also allow individuals to age in place. Our agency has developed a support model that includes medical/psychiatric services, medication monitoring, assistance with maintaining personal hygiene and clean-living spaces, financial management, navigating the criminal justice system, and a host of additional age-specific supports.
Homelessness is a complex, urgent and growing issue in Toronto.
There are approximately 8,500 people in Toronto who are experiencing homelessness, many more are experiencing “hidden homelessness”, and thousands of others are on the wait list for supportive housing.
Toronto has a shortage of affordable housing. Many individuals experiencing homelessness rely on temporary shelters, emergency services or a friend’s hospitality.
Others live “rough” in the city’s parks, ravines, and alleys. Finding a safe, affordable place to live can be difficult. Homes First is here to help.
– On any given day over 8,500 people in Toronto are experiencing homelessness.
– For every 10,000 people in Toronto, 30 are homeless.
– In 2018, nearly half of Toronto’s homeless population reported being homeless for over 6 months, which makes them chronically homeless.
– Over 30 per cent of Toronto’s homeless live with a mental health issue, and over 25 per cent live with an addiction.
– 94 per cent of those experiencing homelessness in Toronto want permanent housing, but face barriers in securing it.
– 80 per cent said they need more affordable housing options.
– In the past 10 years, average market rent for a one-bedroom has increased by 33 per cent. In that same time, Ontario Works shelter benefits have increased only 10 per cent.
A city where everyone experiences the warmth, comfort, stability and security that a home provides. We believe a Homefull Toronto is a place where everyone experiences health and wholeness and has access to the opportunities, support and resourc es they need to thrive.
A city FULL of homes. A city FULL of hope. Click on the button below to learn more our Homefull Toronto initiative.
Get to know the Homes First Leadership team. Click here to meet our Governance team.
Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
Director of Development and Homelessness Initiatives
Jamie has worked in the housing and homelessness sector for over 20 years. Jamie’s life work is based on the belief that everyone needs a home. Over the years he has worked on the front lines as a shelter worker, a housing worker, and a case support worker. Additionally, he spent time as a Housing and Shelter supervisor, manager and as the Director of Housing and Shelters.
His work has focused on providing shelter, housing, and support services to people who are most vulnerable, most marginalized and have the fewest housing options. He is currently dedicated to developing a variety of Housing programs specifically designed to meet the needs of Toronto’s chronic homeless population.
Director of Human Resources
Director of Housing and Shelters
Having joined Homes First Society over two decades ago, Michael is currently our Director of Housing and Shelters. He started as a front-line shelter worker at the innovative StreetCity, which closed in 2003 but laid the path for future projects including Strachan House, a deeply supportive housing program for some of Toronto’s most complex residents. Michael was the Life Skills worker at Strachan for nearly 15 years. He left Strachan to help oversee The Rooming House Project, a joint venture with Dixon Hall and Ecuhome, providing supports to the tenants of Toronto Community Housing buildings in the Cabbagetown area, before returning to Homes First in his current role.
Director of Property Management Operations
Justin Ryan is the senior Director of Property Management operation at Homes First, managing 14 properties from low rise to high rise as well as seven 24-hour emergency shelters and three hotel shelter programs in the City of Toronto. He has 25 years of extensive experience in the property development and property management field. Over his past 10 years with Homes First, Justin’s management and organization of the maintenance programs and contracts has significantly reduced the organization’s operating costs and has helped foster a healthier environment for residents and employees. His ability to understand and manage residents with extreme complex issues and pairing that with design and development has provided safer environments. Projects he has managed in this time include four large scale elevator modernizations, a 57-thousand square foot floor resurfacing project, a 64 unit building hydro vault replacement, as well as an eight-unit building addition.
Justin has a wealth of experience in property management activities in both shelter and housing program models. He also has lengthy experience in the management of both non-owned and owned building facilities management (preventative maintenance).
Director of Finances
Acting Director of Housing and Shelters (on leave)
Assistant Director of Property Management Operations
We’re continuously looking for great people to join us in our fight for those experiencing homelessness in Toronto. If you think our missions and values align, click on the button below to see and apply for open positions. We can’t wait to meet you!
Below are some significant resources and articles in the housing and homeless sector we’d like to share.