City of Toronto and Province of Ontario invest in Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit to provide housing for people experiencing homelessness, including asylum seekers

Office buildings among Toronto skyline (Photo from Ontario Pension Board)

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.


“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

SOURCE: City of Toronto

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