CITY draws researchers from the majority of York University's faculties and from the larger community in Toronto, the GTA, across Canada and globally.

Located on the seventh floor of the Kaneff Tower, the CITY Institute houses the Director and staff along with post-doctoral, graduate and undergraduate students, as well as visiting researches, while other York faculty members maintain offices across the campus. The CITY also hosts a Student Caucus, and provides a limited number of paid opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students to become Research Assistants. The CITY Institute also provides space for resident Partners.

In terms of governance, CITY has an External Advisory Board, an internal Board, and an Executive Committee that answers to the general membership (referred to as the Council of Affiliates).