Today, Toronto City Council approved the permanent conversion of the Toronto Rent Bank into a grant-based program, which will help more people in Toronto who were at risk of eviction stay in their rental homes. Council’s direction is the direct result of a successful pandemic-related pilot that prevented eviction and homelessness for many Toronto residents.
In May 2021, recognizing the financial stresses many Toronto residents were facing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the City made significant program enhancements to the Toronto Rent Bank. Council approved a pilot of the Rent Bank model that provided grants instead of loans for any new households accessing the program. It also suspended any loan repayment requirements for existing Rent Bank clients during the period of the pilot program, which ran until March 31, 2022. The City invested additional funds into the program which supported its success during the pilot.
This pilot program positively impacted the lives of Torontonians who were at risk of eviction, allowing families and individuals to remain in their homes and avoid homelessness. A total of 1,744 households were able to avoid eviction by receiving a grant during the pilot period. This was an increase of 52 per cent over 2020 – or an additional 594 households. As well, a recent survey of Rent Bank grant recipients confirmed that the grants were imperative to them maintaining their housing when faced with economic uncertainty during the ongoing pandemic.
In recognition of this success, and in acknowledgment of the continued financial challenges faced by many Toronto residents, Council has approved these changes on a permanent basis. This allows the Toronto Rent Bank to continue to issue support as grants. Additionally, there are provisions for forgiveness of loans issued prior to the pandemic, should repayment result in undue financial hardship. This represents an investment of nearly $5 million for Toronto Rent Bank, which was approved in the City’s 2022 budget. City staff are committed to working with the City’s partner, Neighbourhood Information Post, and Toronto Rent Bank loan recipients, putting safeguards in place to ensure they can continue to pay their rent each month.
More information on the Toronto Rent Bank is available on the City’s website: www.toronto.ca/rentbank.
“By preventing homelessness, the Toronto Rent Bank is supporting people when they need it most and today we’ve taken action to improve this vital program. We all want Toronto residents to be able to stay in their homes and I am excited about the ways in which this program will continue to provide critical support to people before they face eviction.”
– Mayor John Tory
“As a City we have been working hard to create affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness. It’s important for the future well-being of our city and its residents. Along with creating new affordable homes, though, we must support Toronto residents who are housed, but at risk of eviction. Making the Toronto Rent Bank into a grant program makes sense, so that people who need support can get it without facing repayment stresses or burdens.”
– Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão (Davenport), Chair of the Planning and Housing Committee
SOURCE City of Toronto