Everything you need to know about affordable housing in Toronto

Jun 7 2021, 3:04 pm

Toronto housing isn’t exactly known for being cheap. That’s why knowing what affordable housing options there are (and whether you qualify) is so important.

As of 2018, — the most recent data available — there were 123,450 affordable housing units in Toronto. But the City is working to quickly add more to that portfolio, with more than 80 different affordable housing projects in the works right now.

To figure out whether you qualify, what options are available, and how to apply, Daily Hive spoke with the City of Toronto to answer the important questions about affordable housing.

What are the affordable housing options in Toronto?

There are two different options to obtain more affordable housing in Toronto. The first is known simply as “affordable housing.” These are rental housing units where the monthly rental cost is at or below the market average. These homes are developed and operated by both private and non-profit housing providers under agreements with the City.

“Housing providers are responsible for the day-to-day operations of affordable housing projects, including advertising and filling available affordable units, and verifying household income to determine eligibility,” a City of Toronto spokesperson told Daily Hive.

The second option is Rent-Geared-to-Income (RGI), more commonly known as subsidized housing. This is where a government-issued subsidy is given to households based on their income and ability to pay rent.

“In most cases, the rent in a subsidized unit is set at 30% of a household’s total monthly income before taxes and adjustments,” according to the City of Toronto. “RGI units are primarily provided by subsidized housing providers, including Toronto Community Housing Corporation.”

Who can apply for them?

To qualify for either affordable housing or subsidized housing, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • At least one member of the household is 16 years or older.
  • At least one member of the household is able to live independently, with or without support services.
  • Each member of the household can prove status in Canada as one of the following:
    • a Canadian citizen;
    • a permanent resident of Canada;
    • an applicant for Canadian permanent resident status; or
    • a refugee claimant or Convention refugee.

There are also income requirements that differ between the two options. For affordable housing, an applicant’s household income must be at or below four times the annualized monthly rent for the unit before the move-in date. For subsidized housing, the income requirements are that the rent price is 30% of the total household income.

Where do you apply?

As of right now, the City does not have a centralized database of affordable units, but new and upcoming affordable housing opportunities are listed on the City’s website here, with links to the development’s website where rental information is made available. The City is currently considering a proposal to create a streamlined listing and application portal.

For subsidized housing, interested applicants can view a full list of buildings and landlords participating in the program, and can send in their applications on the City’s website here.

“Applicants indicate on their application which buildings they are interested in, and a housing provider will contact them with an offer,” the City spokesperson said.

Is there a waitlist?

If you’re hoping to get subsidized housing in Toronto, be prepared to wait quite a long time as there is a lengthy waitlist. As of March 31, 2021, there were 79,332 households on the waitlist. According to the City of Toronto, this has resulted in the following wait times per unit type:

• Studio unit: 7.3 years
• One-bedroom: 12.25 years
• Two-bedroom: 11.5 years
• Three-bedroom: 13 years

Laura HanrahanLaura Hanrahan

+ Real Estate
+ Urbanized