Subsidized Housing & Housing Benefits
Get a personalized list of available benefits, including help with child care, employment, housing and living expenses.
The waiting list for subsidized or rent-geared-to-income housing through Housing Connections is long and you may need other options until something is available. Did you know that there are different types of subsidized housing you may be eligible for including supportive housing and alternative housing? Learn where to apply for subsidized housing.
You can also contact a Housing Help Centre to get help to find and keep housing.
Some housing providers prefer to take applications directly, rather than through Housing Connections. These are usually known as “alternative housing providers” and may have specific eligibility criteria.
See a map and list of the places you can submit applications to specific housing providers as well as the locations for Housing Connections, Access Point, Developmental Services Ontario and the Centre for Independent Living..
To maximize your chances of getting a subsidized unit, it’s a good idea to submit an application with Housing Connections even if you apply elsewhere.
A housing allowance is a non-repayable subsidy to help eligible households pay the rent. The allowance is paid directly to the individual, not the landlord, so it can be used in the private market, and it’s portable, so it moves where they move. The allowance usually lasts for several years.
Demand for allowances is always greater than supply. In the past, specific groups such as people who are homeless, large families or those needing modified units have been targeted. Typically, they must be on the centralized wait list managed by Housing Connections. Eligible applicants are contacted directly by Housing Connections staff. It’s one more reason to ensure your housing application is kept up to date.
1) Applicants From the Centralized Waiting List for Social Housing: To apply, please submit a housing application to Housing Connections and keep it up to date. For those on the centralized social housing waiting list, priority groups have included: large families, people needing accessible units and seniors.
2) People Experiencing Chronic Homelessness: Applications for this stream should be submitted through a city-funded shelter or Streets to Homes. Applicants must be homeless for six months or more and meet other eligibility criteria.
3) Survivors of Domestic Violence: Please the section below on “Housing Allowance for Survivors of Domestic Violence”
4) People in an Eviction Prevention Pilot Program: This pilot is only accepting referrals through Shelter, Support and Housing Administration staff.
5) People From Expiring Housing Allowance Programs: Some allowances were allocated to tenants already receiving allowances if the program was coming to an end and they continued to meet eligibility criteria. In addition, some allowances are available for people in subsidized units in housing cooperatives whose operating agreements are expiring. Those tenants affected will be invited to apply directly.
Am I Eligible? Income and Rent Limits
To be eligible, applicants must have an Adjusted Family Net Income (before tax and excludes any amounts the household receives from the Universal Child Care Benefit and the Registered Disability Savings Plan) within the limits stated below:
|# occupants||Maximum Income Limit||Maximum Allowable Rent *|
|3 – 4||$50,000||$1643|
|5 – 6||$59,000||$1911|
*Market Rent includes basic rent and utilities costs (heat, electricity, water).
Am I Eligible? Other Criteria
- Canadian citizen, or landed immigrant (permanent resident), or an applicant for permanent resident status, or refugee, or refugee claimant
- Currently live in the City of Toronto
- Have the previous year’s income tax return completed
- Not currently receiving rent-geared-to-income assistance or a housing allowance
- Do not have arrears with a Social Housing Provider or do have arrears with a repayment plan in good standing
- Do not own a home suitable for year round occupation
- Have a household income that is below the Household Income Limit for Toronto, calculated by household size
- Pay a rent that is not more than 30% above the Average Market Rent
Other Important Aspects of Housing Allowances
- Housing Allowances Are Different from Rent Geared-to-Income (RGI). This is a fixed monthly subsidy available until at least March 31, 2024 subject to annual eligibility verification. Housing allowances are also portable; households can move elsewhere in Toronto while in the program.
- Allowances Can Impact Those on OW or ODSP: The shelter component of these programs may be reduced in certain circumstances. This occurs if the Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) shelter component plus the allowance is greater than rent paid. In this case, the OW/ODSP shelter component payment is reduced by the difference between the total benefit amounts received (through housing allowance and the OW/ODSP shelter component) and rent. With the exception of the shelter component adjustment noted above, participation in this housing allowance program should not impact the payment of OW or ODSP.
- You Must File a Tax Return to be Eligible for Housing Allowances. Your return is used to verify household income.
- Housing Allowances are Available if Sharing Rent With a Non-Family Roommate. If you share rent with a roommate who is not a family you may be eligible for a housing allowance. However, you should list their share of the rent only.
- Payments are Usually Directly to You the Tenant. However, arrangements can be made to have payments made to the landlord.
- Housing Allowances Should Not Affect Other Government Benefits. Housing Allowances should not impact payments from other government programs such as the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security or the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
- Getting a Housing Allowance Should Not Change Your Status on a Waiting List. However, if someone receiving a housing allowance accepts an offer of rent-geared-to-income housing, they will no longer be able to receive the monthly housing allowance.
The Survivors of Domestic Violence – Toronto Portable Housing Allowance Program provides:
- A $500 monthly housing allowance to make rent more affordable.
- A one-time payment of up to $2,500 to cover costs for first and last month’s rent in addition to this allowance. This payment is for certain eligible households living in a shelter or transitional housing.
How to Apply
If you are in a shelter or transitional housing or receiving support services, connect with your housing worker or support person to complete the referral process. If you are no longer in contact with a worker, Housing Connections is available, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:30 am–12 pm to provide assistance and answer questions.
Am I Eligible?
To be eligible, households must:
- currently live in Toronto
- meet Rent-Geared-to-Income eligibility
- have been approved for the Special Priority Housing Category by Housing Connections
- have established a new address and are permanently separated from the abuser, or are in a shelter, transitional or temporary housing, or reside with their abuser and plan to separate from them
Other Important Aspects
- funding is available to March 31, 2018
- there are about 320 allowances available
- applications will continue to be accepted until all allowances are allocated
- this allowance is paid to the tenant, not the landlord
Supportive housing can be a good option for people with special situations. Follow these links to apply directly for supportive housing:
The Access Point for those with mental illness and/or substance use issues as well as those involved with the criminal justice system. You can also apply for case management supports at Access Point.
Centre for Independent Living for those with disabilities.
Developmental Services Ontario for those with developmental disabilities.