Toronto looking to launch a new streamlined affordable housing lottery

Apr 26 2021, 8:34 am

The Toronto affordable housing lottery system could soon have a very different, more streamlined look.

City Council’s Planning and Housing Committee is investigating ways to create a centralized lottery system that would list all available affordable housing options in one place, making these units easier to seek out and apply for.

During the committee’s meeting on Thursday, a motion was brought forward calling for the “design of a new affordable housing access system that integrates a client portal for the public to search and apply for available units, and a vacancy management system for housing providers to post vacancies and review applications.”

Toronto has just over 8,000 affordable housing units — a number the City plans to increase to 40,000 through the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. Currently, these units are rented out by private landlords and non-profit housing providers through individual draws. The new system would allow housing providers to advertise available units directly on the centralized portal.

The portal will also incorporate the City’s separate subsidized housing system, which currently has a lengthy waitlist. The affordable housing and subsidized housing lists will be separate, but Torontonians would have a single access point to navigate all affordable housing options.

“What we would hope with the new recommendation with streamlined access is to have a centralized portal where anyone requesting housing comes in through one window and based on the parameters and income levels and qualifications, the housing opportunities will be identified to them that they could pursue,” Director of Housing Stability Services Doug Rollins said during the committee meeting.

Both within the Committee’s motion and during the Thursday meeting, several references were made to New York City’s affordable housing lottery website, which centrally lists all affordable and subsidized housing options, the income and tenant requirements for each, and allows residents to apply directly through the site.

Councillor Brad Bradford brought forward an additional request to have the portal geographically track the number of affordable housing units that are added to the lottery and enable access of this housing data across all City of Toronto agencies to inform housing and homelessness policy decisions.

The motion was referred to the General Manager, Shelter, Support and Housing Administration, the Chief Planner and Executive Director, City Planning and the Executive Director, Housing Secretariat, who will look into designing a model for a centralized access system and report back to the committee before the end of the year.

Laura HanrahanLaura Hanrahan

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