Out of the Cold

This Partnership Program offers Hospitality and Refuge During the Cold Winter Months

Delivered by 16 different Faith based organizations, Dixon Hall supports the Out of the Cold (OOTC) program through our Housing Services department. We have been working in partnership with the faith organizations since 2003 by providing different levels of service to each site.

OOTC sites provide a warm, safe place for guests to spend the night, along with a nutritious, hot meal which is available to all community members, and a set number of mats are provided to stay overnight. Overnight guests receive a hot breakfast in the morning and TTC tokens. Select sites offer donated clothing rooms, showers, and laundry facilities.

OOTC guests receive support from Dixon Hall’s Client Intervention and Housing Workers. Dixon Hall staff support OOTC guests through referrals (medical, legal, mental health & addiction supports) and assistance in their efforts to find appropriate housing.

Dixon Hall’s goal is to work meaningfully with the men and women who access the OOTC program during the season. Since 2015, we’ve employed a Data Coordinator to track site capacity information and understand demographic trends within the program. Our Client Intervention and Housing Workers have successfully housed 160 guests since January 2016.

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contact-info

Contacts

e. ootc@dixonhall.org

Kathleen O'Gorman,
Manager, Out of the Cold program
t. 416.863.0499 ext 2041
e. kathleen.ogorman@dixonhall.org 

The 2019/2020 Out of the Cold program schedule will be available beginning October 2019.

 

Out of the Cold Toronto - How Seasonal Programs Can Inform Permanent Solutions to Homelessness
November 2017 - April 2018
Download the report

Out of the Cold Toronto - 30 Years Later - A Growing Crisis
November 2016 - April 2017
Download the report

Calling Home - Exploring Pathways to Homelessness in our City
Comparing and contrasting experiences of OOTC guests vs. shelter residents
Research conducted between March, April, June and October 2018
Download the report
Download the report in French

The OOTC program relies on the contributions of the community to run successfully every year. To support the program and ensure that men and women experiencing homelessness have a safe, secure place to sleep and experience the hospitality of the faith partners during the winter months please consider:

  • Volunteering

Over 3,000 volunteers come together throughout the winter months to deliver the OOTC program. Each faith-based organization recruits and trains their own volunteers. There are a variety of roles available including meal prep, serving, cleaning, general maintenance, set-up/tear-down and more.

To volunteer, please contact the individual site you'd like to volunteer at directly. Contact details to come soon.

  • Donating 

Faith-based organizations who offer the OOTC program also absorb all costs associated with the amenities provided. Each site has different needs.

If you're interested in donating to the OOTC program, please contact the site you'd like to support directly to understand their needs. Contact details to come soon.

Each Out of the Cold sites have differing policies regarding media visits, on-site interviews and photography. Media requests are at the discretion of each site. Protecting and respecting the confidentiality of OOTC guests is important.

If you are a member of the media who would like to arrange a visit to an OOTC site and would like to understand the nature of the program, please contact:

Kali Madej
Communications Manager
kali.madej@dixonhall.org
416-863-0499 x 2062

Please note: Dixon Hall will help facilitate connections to OOTC sites regarding media requests, but it is up to the individual sites to approve or deny requests.

When did the OOTC program start? How did the OOTC program start?

The Out of the Cold (OOTC) program was created in 1987 by Sister Susan Moran. The program was created after a group of students from St. Michael’s school befriended a homeless man who frequented the area. After he tragically passed away, the students discussed how they could alleviate homelessness with Sister Moran. Inspired by their conversation, Sister Moran started connecting with different faith-groups across the city, and the OOTC program began. Today, the program is offered at 16 sites across Toronto, including churches, mosques, and synagogues.

 Where does the OOTC program operate? When does the OOTC program operate?

The OOTC program is offered across the city of Toronto in many different locations, from the downtown core, to the Beaches, up to North York. For a full-list of OOTC sites, please review the season calendar. The program operates beginning on November 1st, through April 5th. In 2017, due to unprecedented demand on Toronto’s shelter system, the OOTC program ran until May at three sites, for the first time ever.

Who uses the OOTC program? How many people use the OOTC program?

The OOTC program is used by men and women experiencing homelessness from all walks of life. Homelessness does not discriminate. Some guests may use the program because the Toronto shelter system is full, others choose to use the OOTC program instead of the shelter system because they prefer the environment. Through our data coordination and analysis work, we know approximately 1,241 people used the program in the 2017-2018 season, and that 75% of guests identified as male. Generally, males between 40-54 are the highest demographic accessing the program, but we see ages ranging from 19-78. For more information on program usage and user demographics, please review our OOTC research reports.

What happens if a site is full?

Every site has its own individual capacity available to guests, and its own policies on how to handle guests in excess of their capacity. Generally, sites make every effort to ensure no one is left out at their site. If impossible to accommodate extra guests, individuals are referred to City of Toronto 24-hour respite sites.

What services and supports are provided to guests of the OOTC program?

Every OOTC site provides guests with a hot, nutritious meal (open to the community to attend), a mat to sleep on; breakfast in the morning for overnight guests, and TTC tokens. Select sites offer donated clothing rooms, laundry facilities, and showers. Dixon Hall provides support to sites including Client Intervention and Housing Workers, training and de-escalation support, and general logistical supports.

What is Dixon Hall’s role in the OOTC program?

Dixon Hall provides support services to 16 OOTC sites across the city, which includes: management and logistical supports, safety, data coordination and analysis, and supplies Client Intervention and Housing Workers to connect with guests in hopes of seeking additional resources and finding supportive housing.

How can I support the OOTC program?

To support the OOTC program, please consider:

  • Donating to ease the financial cost on faith-based organizations
  • Volunteering to support men and women experiencing homelessness
  • Getting involved in the advocacy efforts for affordable and supportive housing in Toronto

 I’d like to volunteer for the OOTC program. How can I get involved?

The OOTC program sites rely on volunteers to offer their individual programs. Please contact the site you'd like to volunteer at directly to find out how to get involved.

I’d like to attend the OOTC program as media. How can I arrange a site visit?

Media requests are handled by each OOTC site individually and are at the discretion of the site coordinators. If you'd like to request access to an OOTC site as a member of the press, please contact the site directly. If you're interested in having Dixon Hall facilitate a connection to an OOTC site on your behalf, please contact:

Kali Madej
Communications Manager
Kali.madej@dixonhall.org
416-863-0499 x 2062

 What is the policy for taking photos at the OOTC program?

Each site has their own policies surrounding photography. Generally, we encourage protecting the confidentiality of guests. To find out more about photo policies, please contact the site you're interested in photographing directly.

How many people have been housed through CIW work?

Our Client Intervention and Housing Workers have successfully housed 160 guests since January 2016. Once housed, Client Intervention  and Housing Workers continue their relationships with former OOTC guests to help ensure housing is maintained, and that additional supports are put into place as necessary.

Do OOTC sites accept clothing or other donations?

Yes! The OOTC sites rely on donations and volunteers to support the communities that access their programs. To find out how you can best support the faith organizations, please contact the site you'd like to support.