There is a limited supply of social housing resulting in long wait times for people seeking rent-geared-to-income (RGI) assistance. Effective eligibility reviews are a key safeguard for ensuring the nearly $385 million in annual subsidy funding helps people who genuinely need RGI.
Annually, an average of about $7,200 in RGI assistance is provided to each RGI household. While we expect that the vast majority of people are eligible, for every 1% of current RGI households that are ineligible, we estimate that the City is providing over $4,000,000 annually in unwarranted assistance which could be used to provide stable housing for over 650 households who are waiting and eligible.
Out of over 160 RGI files we reviewed, approximately:
Rent-geared-to-income is a housing program that makes housing affordable and stable for lower income households. RGI rent is generally capped at 30% of gross income.
The City has delegated responsibility for administering RGI assistance, including ongoing eligibility reviews, to its housing providers. Under the Housing Services Act, 2011, the City remains accountable for any delegated duties.
A – Detecting and Investigating Indicators of RGI Ineligibility
We identified a number of indicators that may impact certain households’ eligibility for RGI assistance, including potential:
City needs to develop a strategy to ensure housing providers are able to identify and address these indicators of potential ineligibility. City should also provide proper guidance, training, and tools to support providers and strengthen eligibility reviews.
B – Centralizing Key Aspects of RGI Administration to Provide Stronger Oversight
Weaknesses in the City’s oversight of providers contributes to potential eligibility and non-compliance issues going undetected. These include:
City should ensure household eligibility before granting access to RGI housing. City should obtain and analyze data to identify eligibility risk indicators and to verify income and assets. City needs effective consent forms to be able to obtain and share information for eligibility verification purposes. A centralized database would support more effective RGI administration.
C – Increasing Integration Amongst Income-Based Subsidy Programs
Increasing integration across the City’s income-based subsidy programs creates efficiencies, avoids duplication of activities and improves the client experience, especially for common clients across programs. The law permits these programs to share information to confirm eligibility. Centralizing investigations provides better support to front line staff to address potential eligibility issues and suspected fraud.
Addressing the recommendations will help maintain public confidence in the City’s oversight of social housing funding. More importantly, this will help prevent providing assistance to ineligible households and assist more waiting and eligible people to access stable housing.