Our Impact Why We Exist
We offer a wide range of programs that help each person find the support they need in order to prevent, address and provide long term solutions to poverty, unemployment, homelessness and mental health challenges.
Over the past several years, Fred Victor has grown substantially and we are now able to provide practical assistance to approximately 2,000 individuals per day within 18 sites across Toronto. Fred Victor meets basic needs with food, clothing, and shelter. We work toward long-term solutions to homelessness by providing transitional housing, permanent affordable housing, job training, community services, mental health case management, mental health court support services and other means that support individuals in stabilizing their lives.
Fred Victor responds with a client-centred approach. This means the whole person is at the centre of our work and we work in partnership with them to improve each one’s health and integration into the larger community.
Our Story What We Do
History of Organization
The organization was started by Mary Sheffield in 1886 as an outreach mission to unemployed and homeless young men and was transformed into a full mission of the Methodist Churches in 1894 when Industrialist Hart Massey put up the money to build a beautiful new building at the corner of Queen and Jarvis Streets in downtown Toronto. He named it after his youngest son, Fred Victor, who died in his early twenties. For 122 years, the organization has been providing services in Toronto’s downtown core, responding to the needs of people who are homeless and living in poverty.
Today, Fred Victor is an independent multi-service organization and a registered charity, reflective of and responsive to the needs of the diverse, multi-cultural, multi-faith and multi-ethnic community it serves. We have grown into an organization with 290 staff including relief and part time positions. We welcome 100 volunteers annually and are fortunate to receive funding support from every sector of society.
The core values that inform Fred Victor have remained unchanged: Our vision is for healthy and thriving communities where every person has a home and access to opportunity. Our mission is to improve the health, income and housing stability of people experiencing poverty and homelessness.
Accolades and Accomplishments
Over the course of its 122 year history, Fred Victor has built a solid reputation as a model service provider: Today, Fred Victor provides assistance to close to 12,000 individuals within 18 different sites across Toronto.
Through the 1970s and 80s, Fred Victor was instrumental in changing the way we think about the needs of people living on the street and developed new sustainable models for shelter and housing. In 2003, Fred Victor pioneered best practices for housing shelter residents who are transsexual or transgendered.
In 2005, Fred Victor researched how pets affect the health of people who are on the street. Our Caledonia shelter was developed with this research in mind, and to date is one of two shelters in the city that receives people with pets. In addition, Fred Victor’s Caledonia Shelter is one of the few wheelchair accessible shelters in our City.
Fred Victor piloted the idea of bringing personal support workers, nurses and physicians into our housing staff teams to support tenants on site and leads a unique partnership of over 40 health, housing and social service agencies across Toronto.
Fred Victor is strategic in its commitment to providing employment and training opportunities and has targets for hiring people with lived experience of homelessness.
On April 1st, 2015 Fred Victor and Community Resource Connections of Toronto (CRCT) integrated with Fred Victor. The CRCT was founded as a non-profit mental health organization and has been serving the community of Toronto since 1974. During their more than 40 year history CRCT has forged lasting relationships with clients of the mental health system and their families. Additionally, CRCT has formed partnerships with related service providers in order to create new services and programs. With the combination of CRCT’s legacy of leadership and innovation in community mental health and Fred Victor’s longevity and strategic development, this partnership will allow for the provision of enhanced, evidence-based services within a multi-service organization that is able to provide support for basic needs, safety, and shelter within a client-centered service model.
Pan Am Housing
In October 2012, Fred Victor received approval from the Provincial Government for a major housing project that would transform one apartment building from the Para/Pan Am Athletes’ Village into 108 affordable housing units. In May 2016, this dream was realized and Fred Victor has now moved 350 people into fully furnished one-two-three- and four bedroom apartments. This new building will house people in greatest need of affordable housing: youth and seniors with histories of mental health and/or homelessness, veterans, people with disabilities, Newcomers to Canada, and families.
Our Programs How We Do It
Fred Victor serves approximately 2,000 people each day by providing:
- Housing Access Support Services
- Permanent Affordable Housing
- Transitional Housing
- Emergency Shelter
- Drop-in Services
- Employment Services
- Food Access
- Health Services
- Community Mental Health Services
- Mental Health and Justice Court Support Programs
- Early Intervention Mental Health Programs
- Creative programs
145 Queen Street East
• 76 units of permanent and supportive and 20 units of transitional housing
Mortimer Avenue Housing
• 32 units of affordable rental housing, including family units
Dawes Road Housing
• 48 units of affordable rental housing including units for families, singles and couples
Dundas Street East - Supports to Daily Living
• On-site support for 14 women with mental and physical health concerns
Bethlehem United Shelter - 1161 Caledonia Road
• 70 bed shelter for singles, couples and people with pets. Wheelchair accessible.
Women's Hostel - 86 Lombard Street
• short-term overnight accommodation for 44 women; health supports
Women's Transitional Housing - 386 and 388 Dundas Street East
37-bed housing for women who have been homeless for less than one year. Serves to prevent one-time shelter users from becoming chronically homeless by providing privacy, safety and support to allow them to quickly get back on their feet within the span of 12 months.
Transitional Shelter for Older Women - 389 Church Street
23 women ages 55+ with complex challenges receive intensive supports to secure housing
Pan Am Housing - Located in West Don Lands
New, permanent, fully furnished affordable housing opened in the spring of 2016 in what was the Pan Am Athletes' Village. The 10 storey building contains 108 units and will provide safe affordable housing for 350 people in need.
Housing Access and Support Services - 100 Lombard Street
• the HUB where 15 outreach workers connect with the City's homeless and under-housed. Workers have networks of affordable housing sites and landlords who are open to housing people on low incomes.
Employment and Training:
Employment and Training Services - 248 Queen Street East
• Individual approach to helping people find sustainable employment. Job seekers are matched with case workers who are able to assist in finding and keeping employment through working together to develop an action plan that may include skills development and upgrading before finding the right job.
• employment and housing services for transgender and transsexual individuals
• opportunities for people with lived experience of homelessness as well as external volunteers from the Toronto community
Open House Drop-in and Support Services - 145 Queen Street East
- Access to Basic Needs (clothing, snacks, I.D. replacement, banking & legal assistance)
- Arts Programming
- Community Gardening
- Harm Reduction Program
- Mental Health and Justice Program
Women's 24 hour drop in- Adelaide Resource Centre for Women - 67 Adelaide Street East
- educational health workshops
- exercise, social recreational, creative and expressive activities
- crisis counselling
- find information about other Fred Victor programs
- laundry and shower services
- access senior services
Friends Restaurant - 145 Queen Street East
- two low-cost, nutritious meals each weekday with a credit meal ticket system for those unable to pay Friends Catering Company
Friends Catering - 145 Queen Street East
- social purpose enterprise that hires & trains people with histories of unemployment
145 Queen Street East
Shared Care Clinic Outreach
Psychiatric and nursing care for individuals with mental health and addiction issues in partnership with CAMH.
Inner City Access Project
Nursing care, medical doctor and personal support workers.
St. Michael's Hospital Withdrawal Management Services
Drug and alcohol addiction withdrawal services for people who want to stop using.
Concurrent Disorders Support Services
Fred Victor is the lead agency referral network for people with both mental illness and addiction that provides counselling, healthcare and community services.
Mental Health and Concurrent Disorder Case Management:
210 Dundas Street East, 4th Floor
Mental Health and Justice Case Management
Case management and housing support for individuals on probation or living in Justice Housing Units.
Hostel Outreach Program (HOP)
Outreach and case management support for women with mental health challenges who are homeless or at risk. Assistance meeting basic needs, advocacy and referrals
Programming promoting full recovery and participation for people with lived experience of the mental health system.
Concurrent Disorders Program
Case management and supports for people with both addiction and mental health issues.
Post Incarnation Housing Access and Follow-up Program
Housing first supports for people who are homeless, have experience with the justice system and have mental health and/or addiction challenges.
St. James Outreach Program - 325 Bleecker Street
Outreach and intensive case management for seniors 55+ in St. James Town who have unmet health needs, are isolated and may be at risk of losing their housing.
Mental Health Court Support Services - 444 Yonge Street (Collage Park) and 60 Queen Street West (Old City hall)
Support for individuals with mental health and/or addiction challenges who are coming through the Mental Health Court Diversion Program and need to connect to community supports.
Community Support Services - 210 Dundas Street West, 4th floor and 2660 Eglinton Ave. E.
Mental Health supports, referrals, advocacy and assistance addressing basic needs for people 16+ years seeking help living day to day who have severe mental health issues. Services available in English, Tamil, Somali and several other languages.
Culturally-Orientated Early Intervention Program - 2660 Eglington Ave E.
Supports for youth (14-34) living in Scarborough experiencing their first episode of psychosis. Services available in English, Tamil, Cantonese and Mandarin. Services also available to the Caribbean community.
Housing Impact Story:
For some people, there are many obstacles to finding a secure home - poor health, disability, trauma, unemployment and public policies that are unable to mitigate inequity.
Fred Victor has many ways of helping people to find and keep the treasure of a home.
You could not come up with a more dramatic example of thelife-saving capacity of a good staff-client partnership than the one betweenGord Rea and Nicole Williams.
Gord entered Fred Victor Transitional Housing in November 2012 andthat’s where he met Housing Support Worker, Nicole. Transitional Housing is thesecond floor of Housing at 145 Queen Street East. Twenty people with complex,life-limiting addiction and mental health challenges live with intensive staffsupport for up to a year.
Much of Gord’s time in Transitional Housing was highly precarious.His severe alcohol addiction had kidnapped his will and he was not able tomobilize his well-developed intelligence and sensitivity and make rationalchoices. Non-palatable alcohol fed his addiction. Nicole recalls the day shefound him lying on the floor in his Transitional Housing unit barelyresponding. An ambulance was called but Nicole was not in the least optimistiche’d be back to Housing. This wasn’t the first crisis for Gord but it was the mostsevere witnessed by Transitional Housing staff. He’d seen the inside of anemergency department 10 times already that year.
However, Gord made a recovery. He will tell you that there will beno more relapses for him in his life story. He is studying at George BrownCollege in hope of becoming a Community Worker where his lived experience ofaddiction and homelessness will be of important public service.
Nicole collaborated with Gord to provide the necessary resolve,the routines and tools that supported him in bringing him back to himself. AndGord will now say without hesitation that he would not be alive today withoutmembers of his family, and Transitional Housing Program staff including Nicole.
What You Can Do
Friends Catering - Social Purpose Enterprise
Activities a donation will support
Friends is a professional catering company that operates out of our community restaurant at 145 Queen Street East and caters full meals and snacks for groups of up to 900 people, service included.
Our hiring target for 2016/17 has increased to 22 catering. Contracts are for 6 months with an 85% completion rate and with 75% of participants moving on to either full or part time permanent work or further schooling.
Grants to this program will help us increase both the social and business outcomes of our social enterprise. This year we are adding a Women's Bakery as a six-month pilot project for 12 women. The goal of this enterprise is to provide work and training experience for people who are experiencing severe, life-limiting barriers to employment, such as mental instability and addiction.
Business goals for 2016/17 have been adjusted as a result of Friends strong performance last year. The new revenue target will be approximately $230,000 (up from $185,000). Our new fully wrapped and branded catering van will help strengthen Friends' profile and likely generate additional business.
1. Creating Local Employment
Friends Catering's primary goal is to train and create jobs for marginalized people in our community who need supportive, skills development-based work environments.
2. Promoting Local Self Reliance
Friends Catering is a locally owned, independent social purpose enterprise. It prepares healthy fresh foods using local produce where possible and maintains long-standing purchasing agreements with local small businesses.
With financial support, Friends Catering is able to train individuals and apply community development principles to all its work. We understand that community development takes place to the degree that individuals are empowered with knowledge and skills in order to make self-fulfilling decisions about their future. Stronger, active, employed and housed individuals who have graduated from Friends Catering want very much to give back to their communities because they feel and see clearly how their community has supported them.
Alex moved to Canada from Afghanistan in the summer of 2012. He was accepted by the Canadian Government as a political refugee and he and his wife were sponsored by Portico a Community Church and One Free World International Organization. Soon after Alex and his wife had a daughter and he worked hard to build a secure life for his family. “The first years were tough. I had lost my confidence and felt as if I had lost my identity. I was accused of a religious crime for my beliefs in Afghanistan, jailed, and abused. The gap widened in my personal life with everything I had been through. I couldn’t support my family and there was a break-up.” Alex found himself on the street with nothing. He had been staying in shelters when Fred Victor case worker, Shannon, met him. She helped him get a room at Fred Victor Transitional Housing which provides a year of housing and support for daily living. Despite pounding the pavement, Alex faced rejection after rejection while looking for work. He was heartbroken because he so badly wanted to be able to support his young daughter. He turned to Shannon who helped him apply for a job with Fred Victor Friends Catering. A social purpose enterprise, Friends has been hiring community members over the past eight years. Trainees receive six months of paid work training in food services. During this period, Alex had had training with Daily Bread Food Bank. This helped him ace the interview with Friends Catering and he was hired by Friends just a few weeks after the interview.
He started shifts in the kitchen right away. Alex showed such dedication and ability to learn food prep, presentation and order fulfillment, he quickly became a worker the Catering team could rely upon. “Friends’ Chef, Ian, was so helpful with my employment at Friends Catering. I was not only treated with respect but given tasks that helped me to learn the business. He also taught me the importance of patience and how to work with others — some of the Catering peer workers had mental health issues. These communication and team work skills were so valuable to me. I met so many people who had challenges, but all of them wanted to work and be a part of Friends Catering.
” Fred Victor Transitional Housing and the Friends Catering team were a big part of Alex’s recovery in 2015 and gave him hope, a place to call home and a new purpose in life.”
He soon finished his training and Chris McNeil, Friends Catering’s Manager, was eager to help one of his “best” employees to secure a good job with the opportunity to grow in the food industry. Chris connected Alex to Alvardo — a friend through Chris’s personal network — who had just the right opening for Alex in the new Scotiabank Conference Centre. Alex interviewed so well he was hired immediately to help start the business.
Beginning under Chef Charles as a dishwasher/prep cook, he has now worked six weeks and is so happy to be somewhere with a permanent job and a steady pay cheque. Chef Charles is a very thrilled employer, too. Charles says: “Alex is a young man who shines every day at his job, he is the “BACKBONE OF THE KITCHEN”. His positive attitude and personality shine our whole kitchen. He is improving every day. I would work with Alex anywhere and anytime. He is an amazing individual.” To this high praise, Alex warmly responds: “I have a great job and have moved to a room that is my own. I now am able to contribute $300 to my daughter every month. Everything is wonderful. I received the kind of help I needed from Fred Victor and the Scotia team. I have learned to keep working hard, accept help and be patient. Thank you.”
Open House Drop-in and Support Services
Activities a donation will support
Grants to this program will allow Fred Victor to maintain, enhance, and innovate a wide range of services and supports that meet the real needs of people who live precariously and in poverty. In particular, financial assistance bolsters support for more vulnerable programs such as the more specialized such as our Arts Program and Community Gardening.
The Arts Program
The Arts Program is a safe and supportive place for our community members to create their masterpieces in a group setting. Each week an expressive arts instructor facilitates the group. There are also outings and opportunities to display and sell artwork. In this way, the program operates as a community economic development project for Fred Victor artists.
“This place gives everyone self-worth. The power of art is very real – there is no judging here. Those who attend the Art Program look forward to it as the highlight of their week."
Brenda Coombs, former program participant and peer art assistant.
When Brenda first came to Fred Victor, she barely spoke. She had lost everything in a divorce and had undergone serious surgery. She was referred to Fred Victor for housing and encouraged to attend the Arts Program. She was able to sell three of her paintings at the Art Program's annual show and go on to develop tattoo art and obtain a license for selling art on the street.
Financial support of Fred Victor's Open House Drop-in program will enable us to continue to research and develop best practices, to actively involve the community in the decision-making process, to offer services that consistently generate positive outcomes and to achieve our target for hiring people with lived experience of homelessness.
The Garden Group
The Garden Group gives participants the opportunity to plant, maintain and harvest a garden plot in the Moss Park Community Garden. The group meets between April and October and every year, participants come up with a special project to commemorate their experience.