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March 27, 2020 – Shelter, Support & Housing Administration

March 27, 2020

Housing, Income and Program Support

How are people experiencing homeless being assisted to find permanent housing during COVID-19?

Please see the City’s March 24 news release for details. As an additional measure, the City is working with Toronto Community Housing (TCH) on a Rapid Housing initiative to identify vacant units that can be made available immediately to particularly vulnerable populations that are currently shelter clients on the waiting list for housing.

These TCH units will be prioritized to those more vulnerable to COVID-19, particularly seniors, who are living in the emergency shelter system.

As of March 24, 15 people have been matched to available units and an additional 30 units have been secured that can be referred to additional shelter clients. Clients will be referred through the City’s Coordinated Access system and will be provided with support to help achieve and sustain housing stability. The Furniture Bank will provide furniture for the units.

Will residents who are facing hardship during COVID-19 be at-risk of eviction?

As per a provincial Court Order that was granted on March 19, all enforcement of residential evictions has been suspended. Furthermore, the Landlord and Tenant Board is suspending eviction hearings except on matters of criminal activity or impairing safety.

Questions related to evictions should be directed to the Province’s Rental Housing Enforcement Unit or call 416-585-7214 or1-888-772-9277.

What measures are being taken to prevent evictions and ensure housing stability for social housing tenants?

In an effort to protect housing stability, social housing providers have been instructed to discontinue eviction-related processes.

Housing providers have been directed to be flexible and exercise discretion on rent payments particularly as they apply to households whose primary source of income is employment. Housing providers have been instructed to work with impacted tenants to defer rent payments and/or enter into payment agreements.

Social Housing Providers have also been instructed to discontinue issuance of Notices

of Decision for Loss of Eligibility – RGI Assistance and suspend existing Notices of Decision for Loss of Eligibility – RGI Assistance. SSHA has suspended the processing of existing and incoming Requests for Review – Loss of Eligibility for RGI Assistance.

Will there be increased income support payments from the Province?

Recent announcements have confirmed funding for additional income support.

The City will coordinate requests to the Province regarding funding support for vulnerable individuals experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness, such as ensuring money is available for meals/food.

During the COVID-19 emergency, what support is the City providing for harm-reduction workers and shelter clients who use drugs and alcohol?

A harm reduction approach to COVID-19 is critical to support people who use substances while in isolation/quarantine while waiting test results or in recovery.

SSHA is working closely with divisional and community partners on how to best support people experiencing homelessness who use substances and are in an isolation program.

SSHA, Toronto Public Health and Inner City Health Associates are holding regular webinar discussions with providers and community partners to discuss COVID-19, issues facing people who are homeless and under-housed, including harm reduction considerations.

Toronto Public Health has developed some resources on harm reduction in relation to COVID-19 that have been shared with the sector (COVID-19 Harm Reduction Tips and COVID-19 Overdose Response Tips)

What kind of outreach support is continuing for the homeless population?

Outreach workers continue to proactively connect with people to provide support, referrals to shelter and housing, COVID-19 education, screening for COVID-19, referral to testing at Provincial Assessment Centre, and safety assessments.

Homeless encampment clearings have been put on hold until further notice.