News Release
August 21, 2023

Today, Mayor Olivia Chow announced that new applications are being accepted for the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB). A one-time top-up of $13.4 million, jointly funded by the City of Toronto and the Province of Ontario, will support approximately 1,350 people to secure housing, helping to relieve pressure on the City’s emergency shelter system. These additional housing benefits will prioritize asylum seekers in addition to other people experiencing homelessness.

Each year, the City receives a funding allocation from the Province of Ontario to support the enrollment of new and eligible households in the COHB. The City exhausted its 2023/24 (Year 4) COHB allocation in May 2023, resulting in no new applications being accepted.

The City’s emergency shelter system currently accommodates approximately 9,000 people nightly – more than 35 per cent of whom are asylum seekers. This infusion of funding into the COHB will help more people access stable housing, and by enabling them to exit the shelter system, will create space for those in need of emergency shelter.

About COHB

The COHB program, established in 2020 as part of the National Housing Strategy’s Bilateral Agreement with the Province of Ontario, provides households with a portable housing benefit to assist with rental costs in the private housing market. The benefit can be used to help pay rent anywhere in Ontario.

The COHB pays the difference between 30 per cent of the household’s income and the average market rent in the area. In the past, the COHB has seen significant uptake from asylum-seeker households.

The COHB application portal and additional information about COHB can be found on the City’s website.


“People deserve dignified access to shelter and housing, regardless of their status. The City and Province moved quickly to expand the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit to help asylum seekers and other people experiencing homelessness access secure housing. This is an example of what different orders of government can do when they work together. While this program will make an important difference, the City of Toronto, other cities in the region and community groups are all asking for federal support on a long-term solution. We urge the federal government to step up and join our effort to support asylum seekers and refugee claimants.”

– Mayor Olivia Chow

“Toronto is committed to welcoming newcomers, including asylum seekers. The City is eager to continue to work with the provincial and the federal governments to ensure all people in Toronto have access to decent emergency shelter when they need it, and ultimately to the decent, permanent housing required to be well and able to contribute to this wonderful city.”

– Councillor Gord Perks (Parkdale-High Park), Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee

Toronto is home to more than three million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation and climate action, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

Media contact: Media Relations,