"Imagine a city where every person feels they belong; where everyone has access to the resources they need to thrive and accomplish their goals.

As a local, Christian development agency, we believe that each and every one of the 500,000 people experiencing poverty in Toronto has immense value. All our resources and energy at YSM are focused on working to respond to immediate needs and help people move from surviving to thriving. We believe that if we combine our collective resources and wisdom, together we can reach our goal of ending chronic poverty in a generation. We invite you to join us.

Angie Draskovic,

President & CEO


At Yonge Street Mission (YSM), we understand poverty. For over 121 years, YSM has provided wraparound support and services that make it possible for individuals, families and communities to move forward. As a developmental agency specializing in poverty-related challenges, we work closely with individuals, families, children, youth, and entire communities living with chronic poverty. Our aim is to help them rise out of poverty.

As shown in several recent studies, the state of poverty in Toronto today leaves us with a deeply divided and unequal city. In some Toronto neighbourhoods, the poverty rate is only 5%. In others, it is ten times that – over 50% or more. Regent Park, Moss Park, Thorncliffe Park and Oakridge have the highest poverty rates in Toronto, with Regent Park reaching almost 63% in 2013.

Opportunities are not as plentiful as they once were – no matter how hard-working and determined a person is. Many new jobs are part-time, precarious, low-paying and without benefits. Housing in Toronto has significantly increased, with costs outrunning inflation. For an alarming number of individuals and families, their income simply does not meet their basic needs. Compounding these systemic challenges is the fact that most people who walk through our doors are traumatized – from war-torn countries, unemployment, or deteriorating mental and physical health. If nothing changes, this relentless cycle of chronic poverty will continue to accelerate, trapping more and more people each day.

At YSM, everything we do is grounded in our values and  guiding  principles.  Click here to learn more.

The Fast Facts

Toronto remains the child poverty capital of Canada, with the highest rate of low-income children


among Canada's large urban cities.


of female lone parents,


of seniors and


of recent immigrants in Toronto are living with poverty.


of those living with poverty and surviving on social assistance have been doing so for more than one generation.

Toronto has the highest low-income rate among its overall population


and the highest rate among working age adults


among all of Canada’s large cities.


of those living on low incomes in Toronto are experiencing chronic poverty, poverty that crosses multiple generations of their family.

Our Plan - A Hand Up, Not A Hand Out

We know that being “all things to all people” is not practical or realistic. However, we can help to create and foster lasting change in our city by drawing on our resources and 120 years of experience.

Our plan is a holistic response, meaning it is a comprehensive, step-by-step system of care designed to serve the specific needs of children, individuals and families.

In everything we do, our overarching objective is simple but powerful: help people move from surviving to thriving and achieve their full potential.

Change begins and ends with people. YSM’s motivation has always been about helping people in need move out of poverty and realize their full potential. Our holistic model focuses on Adults Experiencing Chronic Poverty, Street Youth, Families in Need, and Community Development.

We use our holistic RISE model of care (Respond, Invite, Support, Engage) and customize it for each focus population and their unique needs.

Recognizing that each person’s journey is unique, the guiding principles of the holistic model include:

– Unconditional support for each individual or family.

– Commitment to walk the entire journey with each person from surviving to thriving, no matter how long or how varied the path.

– Evaluating our effectiveness with comprehensive tools to measure individual and community transformation.

YSM’s Community Development program is built around working with people and organizations to affect positive change where they live. The result is not only a more vibrant and inclusive neighbourhood, but residents who are motivated to actively participate in its growth and future.

From our experience, we have learned that on order to have lasting positive change, residents must be the leading voices in the process. YSM’s role is to support their voice. By partnering with other agencies that possess proven, specialized expertise, we can address the unique needs of each of these three populations for maximum impact.

YSM has intentionally invested in the skills development of our Community Development teams to foster solutions that the community identified, owned and delivered.

To fully realize our vision of ending chronic poverty, we must identify key systemic barriers and work with community, government, and all other stakeholders to affect positive change that removes barriers.

Nurture Community Ownership and Engagement

Increase the community’s capacity to be informed of policy and participate in the decision making.

Informing Policy

Bringing the wisdom of resident voices and practical experiences to key dialogues with our partners in municipal, provincial, and federal government.

Ensuring City-Wide Best Practice

Through our Centre for Urban Education, share, foster and contribute to training initiatives and effective community solutions.

Continuous Listening and Relevant Response

By engaging resident voices and leadership, YSM will help ensure that all partnerships respond to the specific priorities and needs of each community.

Our model helps vulnerable people navigate Toronto’s complex social system to access the resources they need. Individuals, families and communities can then concentrate on becoming healthy and realizing their goals. At every step along the way, YSM helps people overcome any and all barriers on their journey out of poverty.