Where to find subsidize friendly housing in Toronto?
October 11, 2017 6:01 AM   Subscribe

An old aquantance of mine has become temporarily homeless in the Greater Toronto Area and can not find any shelters with availability. Assuming they have to stay in Ontario in a sizeable city, are there any better cities to relocate to with currently available shelters or temporary housing options and programs to help them get back to a stable living situation?

I know nothing about Canadian social assistance programs or living in a large Canadian city.

Assume both she and her adult son have multiple physical and mental illnesses that require specialized treatment, but not continuous hospitalization. They moved to Toronto several years ago to seek medical treatment and through work, disability, social assistance and support from her ex husband and family, have been able to live relatively normal lives and lived in a subsidized apartment.

In the past six months things have unraveled for them. They were evicted from their apartment that had become unlivable. I believe the rent was paid mostly by a disability program, and the landlord supposedly forced them out so he could make the needed repairs and raise the rent. They apparently need to find first and last months rent to apply for an new apartment, and there is apparently a great conspiracy amongst landlords there to discriminate against people on assistance programs. This hurdle has essentially kept them homeless since the Spring.

They tried to move closer to her family, but they do not really qualify for any assistance programs there as they have not been residents for a long time, and the medical options are not available, which is why they originally left. Other legal reasons also necessitated they return to Ontario in July.

Thy have been trying to reestablish residency in Ontario, first in Ottawa and now in Toronto (including some of the suburbs). They have some income from disability and people sending them money, but it does not go far since they will stay at hotels or hostels or campgrounds until it runs out, then return to the the streets. They are currently living day to day in a tent at a campground. A few gofundme campaigns have not been successful.

Myself and others have suggested they need to move to a smaller city that is cheaper and may have room available in shelters. I also assume they should do this quickly as I resources for the homeless are more in demand as the weather gets colder. Hamilton and Thunder Bay have been suggested as places. They basically need a room over their heads for a month or two until they can get enough together to secure an apartment. I also feel that they need an advocate that knows the system and can tell them bluntly what they need to do at times. However, I also understand some of these places require you to prove residency in these cities for a certain period before they can use local assistance programs.

Another problem for them is with her son's conditions, she claims they cannot share an apartment with others or rent a room in a house, which I think they could probably afford. They could also probably find shelter availability separately as most shelters are male or female only, but need to stay together for times of medical crisis. Family shelters will not accept them as the son is technically an adult.

Does anyone have any suggestions for them to find an affordable rental that does not require a large upfront expenditure, or an agency that may be able to find resources for them? With November coming the campgrounds will be closing and they will be back on the street.
posted by Short End Of A Wishbone to Home & Garden (6 answers total)
They should call 211. You can google Toronto 211 (or any city name plus 211) and there is information for situations such as homelessness.
posted by Coffeetyme at 7:17 AM on October 11

In my experience, small cities like Hamilton and Thunder Bay are harder to get services in, not easier, because the larger support systems that big cities have in place just aren't available. Hamilton has about 100 shelter beds available for families, while Ottawa has about 550. Ottawa is maybe twice the size of Hamilton.

If I was homeless in Ontario, I believe that Toronto or Ottawa is where I'd be able to access the most services and have the best shot at getting back on my feet.
posted by Jairus at 8:24 AM on October 11 [4 favorites]

I would suggest the Housing Access and Support Services at the Fred Victor Centre. My friend volunteers there and I understand they have a good program.
posted by Lescha at 9:28 AM on October 11 [2 favorites]

2nding the Fred Victor Centre. They have a pretty robust network of support for people facing homelessness. There are winter-specific programs that will open up more spots in shelters in Toronto, but that's not exactly permanent housing.

YWCA of Toronto is another good source. They run the 1st Stop Woodlawn Drop-in Centre, where your friend might be able to get the necessary support to start the subsidized housing application process. Here is a list of all the shelters in Toronto--any one of these should be able to direct your friend to the resources she needs. But I believe there may be waitlists for any permanent housing situation.

As for affordable rentals, could they look somewhere like Mimico or East York? Rents can still be found there for under $900 a month. What about St. Jamestown?
posted by Miss T.Horn at 11:01 AM on October 11 [1 favorite]

They are/were probably on ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program). I'm not sure where they were staying before - are you saying that they lost Ontario residency or that they just weren't in the GTA? There may be a residency benefit requirement if they weren't in Ontario. Anyhow, if they were on ODSP in the past apparently there is a rapid reinstatement process. Otherwise I agree with posters recommending the Fred Victor centre.
posted by biggreenplant at 11:45 AM on October 11

I'm pretty familiar with the system in Ontario and much of what you relate does not add up, which makes me think they are far less functional than you think. Can someone go to be in person with them to get them housed and advocate for supports (like OSSP?). For example, first and last months rent is covered by OW/ODSP, as well as several other programs.

I agree they are best off staying in Toronto, on a transit line, and hooked into local supports. Do not let them rent somewhere with utilities extra - if their heat is baseboard the hydro bills will kill them in winter (and probably lead to them being cut off). Toronto has more services than Ottawa and has milder winters. You are correct that often poverty is pushed out to the suburbs but generally they are worse off their than in the downtown or in a small town.

Good luck, I hope they get housed so their other challenges can then be addressed.
posted by saucysault at 6:25 PM on October 11 [1 favorite]

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