LOFT Community Services

Our mission is to help people achieve their optimum health and well-being in the community, LOFT offers unwavering support and hope. We serve people living with complex mental health, addictions, cognitive and physical health challenges, offering a range of services and housing delivered in the community. Through innovation, investment, expertise and collaboration we respond to changing needs in our diverse community.

Our Impact Why We Exist

We believe that every person has the ability to grow and change and every person deserves the opportunity to do so. We serve men and women, youth, adults and seniors, including many who are considered hard to serve.

LOFT is proactive in identifying emerging and unmet needs and responding with innovative programs. As a result, we have often been the first, and sometimes the only, organization serving the basic needs of individuals with especially complex challenges:

  • people with HIV/AIDS who also have mental health and addiction issues and histories of homelessness
  • at-risk homeless youth including those who "age out" of the child welfare system
  • vulnerable seniors with nowhere to call home

In this way, we have grown to be one the largest and most diverse organizations of our type in Ontario.

Our services are open, welcoming, respectful and non-judgmental.

Our Story What We Do

History of Organization

LOFT Community Services was established in 1953 to operate two half-way houses, previously owned by the Anglican Diocese of Toronto, serving young people recently released from prison.

In the early years, the organization expanded by merging with additional church affiliated housing programs serving adults and seniors.

In the late 1980s LOFT became more aware of the unmet needs of people with mental health and addiction challenges and began to make this a focus of its work. As the organization grew, it was recognized that its history had place LOFT in a unique position to respond to some of the most pressing needs in our community.

Today, LOFT Community Services offers housing and support services to more than 3,500 vulnerable and marginalized youth, adults and seniors, especially those with mental health and addiction issues who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Every year, hundreds of new clients join our programs, others "graduate", moving on to full independence, and yet others, whose complex challenges prevent them from living completely independently, will be able to receive the support they need for as long as they need it.

Accolades and Accomplishments

LOFT is:

  • Ontario’s first and largest provider of mental health supportive housing to marginalized and at-risk seniors.
  • The only provider of seniors supportive housing in the Jane and Finch neighbourhood.
  • The key partner in a highly innovative program helping vulnerable seniors make the transition from psychiatric and geriatric chronic and acute care hospital beds back into the community.
  • One of North America’s few programs serving men and women with HIV/AIDS in combination with mental health and addiction issues and histories of homelessness.
  • The originator and lead partner in a new and very effective program helping long-term homeless people with mental health and addiction issues and HIV disease to leave the street.
  • Toronto’s only post-treatment residential program for young women recovering from addiction.
  • One of the city’s largest providers of permanent housing and support services to homeless and at-risk youth.

Our Programs How We Do It

Programs for Youth:

Programs for Adults:

Programs for Seniors:

Seniors’ Welcome Home Program

Aging at home – it’s what we all want! And research continues to show that staying out of institutions keeps us happier and healthier. But what happens if you don’t have a home, especially if you have to be hospitalized?

This program assists seniors who were either homeless before hospitalization or lost their housing while in hospital. Some are even ineligible for nursing homes because of their mental health or addiction challenges, and those waiting lists are already too long as it is.

Not able to live on their own, with no resources and no one to help them, they are “trapped”, occupying psychiatric, chronic and acute care beds that are desperately needed for other purposes.

By providing furnished, transitional housing and a very high level of comprehensive support, we make it possible for people to regain their self-confidence, independence and, most importantly, their dignity. And when they are ready, we help them find a permanent apartment of their own and provide the support they need to live there safely.

The goal of our programming is to foster a sense of well-being so that formerly homeless seniors not only have a place to live, they have a home in a “community” that welcomes and supports them.

Funding and Program Partners

Funders:

  • The Toronto Central LHIN and the Central LHIN

Partners: 

  • Central Community Care Access Centre
  • Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
  • Downsview Services to Seniors
  • Humber River Regional Hospital
  • St. Elizabeth Healthcare
  • Toronto Community Housing Corporation

Program Impact

  • This program helps over 50 seniors a year to leave hospital and return to life in the community.
  • Support services enable them to live safely in their own homes, where research shows that they will remain happier and healthier than in hospital.
  • Hospital beds are freed for other uses, without adding to the long waiting lists for nursing homes.
  • Both the transitional housing and permanent supportive housing are a fraction of the cost of institutional care.
  • A community of mutual support can do more than the most skilled therapists to help an individual regain their self-confidence as a valued member of a welcoming group.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

"More than 25% of seniors in Toronto were living alone at the last census."

"The City... is not close to meeting the need for affordable housing in Toronto”

"18,740 seniors are on the active list. The projected wait time for housing is more than 5 years"

Participant Vignette

"I suffer from bipolar, depression and dementia. I was brought to the hospital because of my frequent falls, and this is due to my heavy drinking.  I started drinking about 10 years ago. I would lock myself up in the garage, fill my fridge with beers, and all I would do is drink all day. I basically lived in the garage for years. I have a daughter; me and her, we do not get along. My marriage broke down, everything about me changed, and this was all to my drinking habits....[I was in the hospital for a long time. I didn’t have any place else to go.]

I was so happy when they told me I could go to Crosslinks Seniors because I didn’t want to be in the hospital any more, I want to go and live in my own place. …. Now, I am in my new place, and I really love it. I can make my own coffee (I love coffee, I drink about 10 cups a day).

I am still working on my drinking .... problem; I am very happy with Crosslinks. I find the services here are very helpful and I am thankful for my caseworker, who is helping me out a great deal. I believe that [this is] a great idea to help people transition into positive way of living."

~Charles

HIV/AIDS Homeless Intervention Project

Among the long-term homeless are a group of men and women living with the “triple threat” of mental illness, addiction and HIV/AIDS. On the road to recovery, their challenges are huge. If they lose control of any one issue, the other two go off the rails as well, so they exist in a cycle of mental or physical health crises leading to hospitalization, where they stabilize and their health improves until discharge, when they end up back on the street until the next crisis. Their period of stability never lasts long enough for them to get into housing.

This program is breaking the cycle by providing intensive case management from hospital to housing – usually a period of 3 to 4 weeks spent in the shelter system – and continuing once in housing until they are stable enough to be successful. It involves 5-6 hours a week per person initially, tapering to 2-3 hours a week, compared to the usual 1 hour every 1-2 weeks.

Frequent, consistent contact helps clients feel like they matter, that someone cares what happens to them, and that positive change is possible. We support this process by coordinating a network including the twelve other AIDS-serving organizations with which our clients interact. 

Funding and Program Partners

Initial pilot project funding was provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada.  Although PHAC considered the pilot highly successful, their funding has ended and funding is currently provided entirely by LOFT donors.

A network of AIDS-serving organizations provide regular communication, referrals, advice and support:

  • 2 Spirited People of the 1st Nations
  • Casey House
  • Fife House
  • Fred Victor Centre
  • Prisoner’s HIV/AIDS Support Action Network (PASAN)
  • Seaton House Shelter Infirmary Program
  • Sherbourne Health Centre, Infirmary Program
  • St. Michael’s Hospital HIV/AIDS Psychiatry
  • St. Michael’s Hospital Positive Care Clinic
  • The 519 Church Street Community Centre Trans Program
  • The HIV/AIDS Network
  • Toronto People with AIDS Foundation

Program Impact

This program literally saves the lives of highly marginalized men and women, otherwise living in extraordinarily difficult and dangerous circumstances.

In the first eight months of full operation, the project accepted forty-four clients, 29 of whom are now in permanent housing and 12 are receiving intensive case management support while they await housing.

It provides vastly improved quality of life for individuals whom society generally considers “write-offs”. Many of the earliest clients have now been housed for the longest continuous period in their adult lives.

It directly benefits the tax payer through reduced need for hospitalizations and emergency response, and reduced burden on the criminal justice and shelter systems.

Toronto's Vital Signs® indicator(s) addressed by Program

“Getting off the street into housing improves the quality of life of the homeless and proves to be less costly for the City.”

Participant Vignette

"It started when I was around four.  My father wasn’t too bad with the others but he seemed to take it out on me.We didn’t see my mother much  She toured with a country and western singer. I remember she came home one time at Christmas. The last time I saw my father I was around four and a half.  I got my younger brother and sister out.  The house was burning.  I never laid eyes on my father after that night.  I was in 32 foster homes and 15 group homes.  One place I had to do physical labour all day every day, stacking up pieces of wood.  That’s where I got my physical strength. My emotional strength – I don’t know. I took a lot of beatings.  I tried to kill myself at 16 – and again at 17.  I’ve had a lot of physical and emotional damage. I think I have post-traumatic stress. I was an addict for a long time – I am an addict, but I’m a clean addict. I’ve done jail time…a few times.  I’ve been places….I’ve done things.  Sometimes I’ve felt rage.  I have an apartment now and I love it!  The people at [LOFT] are very good at finding the right people to connect with and get services.  Basically, they refused to give up on me. It’s just been a couple of months, but I’ve come a long way already."

~Timothy

What You Can Do

Seniors’ Welcome Home Program

Activities a donation will support

  • Your gift will help LOFT ensure that each client receives the practical assistance they need as they make the transition from hospital to their new home.
  • Because most clients come to us, quite literally, with nothing but the clothes on their backs, grants help us to furnish and equip their new homes, and provide basic necessities like toiletries, linens and clothing, to get them started.
  • Full cost of transition for one person from psychiatric hospital: $12,500; from chronic or acute care hospital: $10,000;
  • Cost of furnishings, linens, toiletries, clothing, etc., for one new permanent resident: $5,000; 
  • Cost per day for ongoing support : $16.00

Donation impact

Your grant will ensure each client receives all the support and service they need to make the transition out of hospital back into the community.  You will also be providing homeless seniors with the basic things they need for a safe and healthy life: a chair, table, bed, towel, toothbrush, clean clothing, etc.  Finally you will be providing the very modest amounts required to develop and maintain a sense of community, through things like coffee hours and monthly birthday parties; the small and simple things that form the heart of each LOFT program.

HIV/AIDS Homeless Intervention Project

Activities a donation will support

The total cost to operate this program at the current level for one year is $150,000.

$4,000 provides sufficient intensive case management to break the cycle of homelessness for one person.

Every dollar contributed to this program will go directly to support some of our city’s most vulnerable and marginalized residents.

Donation impact

Your support will not just change lives – it will save lives. People who had been considered beyond help, are successfully leaving the street and learning to live in apartments of their own.

Men and women previously living in unimaginable circumstances of fear, loneliness and despair, are receiving treatment for their mental illness, addiction, HIV disease and other health concerns. They are beginning to believe that someone can care about them, and more importantly, that they can care about themselves.

This program is helping people regain their dignity and independence and take back control of their lives.

Contact

Jane Corbett
Director of Development
416.979.1994 x227
Charitable Number: 130586605RR0001

Finance & Governance

community