Olivia Chow tops up rent supplement program

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Olivia Chow speaking at podium

On August 21, Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow announced that the city and province will be jointly contributing $13.4 million to the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB).

The increased financial support will help 1,350 people, many of whom are refugees and asylum seekers, obtain housing. The COHB will subsidise the difference between 30% of a household's income and the average market rent in any city in Ontario, helping them to secure long-term housing and reducing the pressure on the region’s emergency shelters.

This multimillion-dollar top-up underscores Chow’s dedication to remedying the affordable housing crisis in Toronto. During her campaign, she also advocated for pro-renter policies including stricter rent control and ‘renoviction’ prevention measures. It’s likely initiatives like these will be implemented in Toronto in the future.

Ming Lim, head of Toronto-based full-service real estate firm Volition Properties, believes that supporting rent assistance programs will benefit the marginalised people who need them, but suggests a "better solution" is to increase affordability instead.

“Allow for more types of housing and make it easier for more types of housing,” he said on Erwin Setzo’s The Truth about Real Estate Investing podcast. “I challenge anybody who’s listening to this to try to figure out how to make a legal basement apartment in the city in five easy steps. It’s unnecessarily complicated. There’s no resources from the city. You make that programme easy, you can get thousands and thousands of units online. People want to do it legally and safe. They don’t even know where to start."

Nevertheless, property managers could benefit from this infusion of COHB funds. Rent supplements can ensure more reliable and timely payments from low-income tenants, fostering a smoother relationship between them, landlords and property managers.

More housing initiative headlines

Toronto is facing a crushing housing shortage. Here's how a new city committee plans to tackle it. – CBC

Toronto mayor Olivia Chow sets new affordable housing targets – Canadian Mortgage Professional

Ontario renters could get right to air conditioning – PayProp

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