Survivors of Domestic Abuse or Human Trafficking
Special Priority Program
Under provincial housing legislation (the Housing Services Act) there is a special program called the Special Priority Program (SPP) for households with current or recent experience of domestic abuse or human trafficking that gives them priority access to Rent-Geared-to-Income Housing or Portable Housing Benefits. Housing Connections is responsible for determining eligibility for this program and helping individuals experiencing abuse apply for housing benefits and register for rental housing geared to their income.
Please be aware that it can take some time to secure housing or a portable housing benefit. If you are looking for a referral to a Violence Against Women shelter or other supports related to your situation, call
- Assaulted Women’s Helpline at 416-863-0511; 1-866-963-7868
- Human Trafficking Helpline 1-833-999-9211
Who Can Apply
In order to qualify under this category, you must
- be eligible for Rent-Geared-to-Income assistance
- meet the criteria for either domestic violence and sponsorship abuse or human trafficking.
Domestic Violence and Sponsorship Abuse Criteria
- You live or lived with an individual who is abusing you or another person in your household or is sponsoring the abused member as an immigrant.
Human Trafficking Criteria
- A member of the household is being or has been trafficked.
The Housing Services Act defines abuse, abuser and human trafficking for the purposes of the Special Priority Program.
- Physical or sexual violence;
- Controlling behaviour; or
- Intentional destruction of or intentional injury to property, or words, actions or gestures that threaten the member or lead the member to fear for his or her safety; or
- Forced labour, sex work or marriage of the member done by any individual.
Abuser (Except in Cases of Human Trafficking)
The abuser is a member of your household and can be
- the individual’s spouse, partner, parent, child or other family member.
- a person who is sponsoring the individual as an immigrant.
- a person on whom the individual is emotionally, physically or financially dependent.
- One or more incidents of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of the member by improper means for an illegal purpose, including sexual exploitation or forced labour.
- Improper means includes force, abduction, fraud, coercion, deception and repeated provision of a controlled substance.
Types of Human Trafficking Include
- Sex trafficking
- Labour trafficking
- Domestic servitude
- Forced marriage involving exploitation
- Other forced illegal activities.
How to Apply
To apply, you must complete and submit a Special Priority Application. If you are currently on the RGI waiting list include your application number on the SPP application. If you are not currently on the RGI waiting list you will need to complete an RGI Application and record the number on your SPP application.There is no cost to submit or process either application.
1. All applicants should fill out sections A and B.
Survivors of domestic abuse must also complete section C.
Survivors of human trafficking must also fill out section D.
These sections are clearly marked with the word ‘Applicant’, and include questions about where we can safely reach you and other information and guiding questions to declare yourself as a victim of domestic abuse. If at any point in completing the application, you find yourself responding ‘No’ to an eligibility question, it means that you are either missing required information that must be collected and submitted by you, or that the program does not meet your needs and other programs may be more suitable.
2.a) A professional needs to verify the abuse in section E.
Section E must be completed by a professional or a person who is able to verify abuse. A list of professionals that may complete this section is on the application form. In addition to completing this section, a professional must attach a statement that describes an accurate and detailed description of applicant’s experience with abuse (the “record of abuse” in 2 b).
2.b) The Professional or person completing 2.a must submit a Record of Abuse.
The record must be completed by the same person that signed the Section E of the Application and contain
- the name of the abused member
- a statement by the person preparing the record that he or she has reasonable grounds to believe that the member is being or has been abused
- a description of the circumstances that indicate that the member is being or has been abused
- information about the person who prepared the record, including his or her name, occupation and any professional designations
- the date the record was prepared.
3. Submit proof that you were living with the abuser if you are applying under the domestic abuse category
Supporting documents that meet this requirement include
- a signed copy of your lease including the landlord’s name and contact or a recent letter from the landlord confirming cohabitation
- letter from a lawyer handling custody application who has a professional relationship with the applicant prior to the special priority application.
- letter from a family doctor, dentist who has known the applicant prior to special priority application.
- letter from public health nurse or representative of a child protections agency, who has visited the applicant in their home and can bear witness that they saw the allege abuser residing at the common address.
- mortgage agreement or annual mortgage statement, or letter from the Public Guardian and Trustee.
- letter from a post-secondary institution, Public School Board or Catholic School Board
- Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support monthly statement.
All documents from professionals should be original, signed copies on letterhead. (Households applying as survivors of human trafficking are not required to demonstrate co-habitation.)
4. Send the completed and signed SPP application package and all supporting documents to Housing Connections.
Housing Connections will review the application and determine eligibility for the program. In some cases, Housing Connections will call the applicant and/or their support for an in-person interview as part of determining eligibility into the program.
Special Priority Program applications are time sensitive. Any time Housing Connections requests more information the applicant and their support must respond in a timely manner. Any delay in responding to additional information can result in the applicant being required to complete a new SPP application.
All applicants will be notified in writing. For those accepted into the program, their date on the waiting list will be reflective of the date all required documents were received to determine eligibility for the program. Applicants that are not approved can submit additional information to address their ineligibility or request a “review” of the eligibility decision.