Ontario, federal government make $1.4B housing deal to help low-income renters

Ontario, federal government make $1.4B housing deal to help low-income renters
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Toronto’s low income renters should soon learn how they can access a portable rental housing benefit following the announcement of what amounts to a $1.4 billion deal co-funded and agreed on by the province and the federal government.

“Today’s announcement is another great example of how governments are working together to help our residents,” said Mayor John Tory, in a statement released prior to a Thursday morning press conference. “Making sure people have access to affordable housing is a top priority for me as Mayor and that requires the cooperation and support of other levels of government.”

Ontario’s program is expected to help at least 300,000 low-income renters, a federal target outlined in a bi-lateral agreement agreed on under the previous provincial government, dated April 2018, and was considered a significant victory for advocates who fought to have a benefit as part of the overall National Housing Strategy.

Priority will be given to households eligible or on a “social housing waiting list and households in financial need living in community housing. This includes survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking, persons experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Indigenous persons, seniors and people with disabilities,” a government release states. It did not contain specifics on when people could apply and exactly how the program would unroll.

Thursday’s announcement was made in front of a Toronto Community Housing building at 150 River Street, near Dundas Street East, and part of the newly revitalized sections of the Regent Park neighbourhood. That building contains 125 rent-geared to income units and 33 units of what is defined as affordable housing and whose residents were chosen through something of a lottery, said TCH spokesperson Bruce Malloch.

People who wanted to live in those affordable units, two and three bedroom apartments costing $1,194 and $1,331 respectively, submitted their names into a random draw and if selected their applications were considered.

The maximum household income for the two-bedroom units was $57,312 and the $63,888 for three-bedroom units.

Malloch said more than 1,800 applications were made for the two-bedroom units and more than 1,600 applications for the three-bedroom apartments and residents are starting to move in this week.

What constitutes affordable housing is typically based around numbers reported out by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, which tracks what people are paying for occupied purpose built rental units. Condominiums are considered a separate category and are not included.

Housing is considered affordable if it matches or is lesser than the average of those occupied purpose built rentals, which are subject to rent control. In Toronto landlords can charge whatever they want for emptied out units and any units occupied after mid-November 2018 have no rent controls at all.

Across Old Toronto, the average cost for a two-bedroom apartment in 2018 was $1,829 and a three bedroom was $2,473, according to the most recent CMCH rental market housing report for the Greater Toronto Area.

Research firm Urbanation reported that average rents for newly leased or available purpose built rental units was at about $2,515 per month, in an October news release. The release did not include unit size.
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