Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Ontario pledges $42mn towards long term housing for asylum seekers in Toronto and other cities

The Ontario government announced it is investing another $42 million through the Canada Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) program to support Toronto and other impacted municipalities across the province in providing urgent assistance to a rapidly growing number of asylum claimants and other at-risk populations.

“This investment will ease growing pressures on homeless shelters by helping thousands of asylum seekers move into long-term housing,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Unfortunately, in Toronto and across the province, too many newcomers searching for a better life are struggling, living in our shelter systems, church basements or, in some cases, out on the streets. That’s just unacceptable. We need all levels of government working together to tackle this crisis.”

This $42 million investment in 2023-24 through the COHB program will assist approximately 4,000 new households, helping move more people into housing and free up existing shelter spaces in impacted communities. Of the $42 million, $26.4 million will be allocated to the City of Toronto reflective of its share of asylum claimants and impact on local services. The province continues to advocate strongly for Ontario municipalities and service managers to ensure they receive their fair share of federal funding to address the significant, ongoing rise in asylum claimants.

Asylum claimants are individuals seeking asylum in Canada based on a fear of persecution in their home country. They are ineligible for most federal support programs, such as financial assistance and settlement and language training services. They are different from persons who arrive in Canada having already been recognized as refugees, whose arrival to Canada as permanent residents allows them to qualify for federal supports.

“This investment will help refugee claimants and unhoused people move into permanent, stable housing so they can rebuild their lives. It will relieve the pressure on Toronto’s shelter system and the many generous churches, community organizations and regular Torontonians who have stepped up to support asylum seekers,” said Olivia Chow, Mayor of Toronto. “All levels of government have a role to play in supporting asylum seekers. The Ontario government is stepping up and I invite the federal government to join us as well.”

This year alone, Ontario could receive more than 72,000 asylum claimants – nearly twice as many as last year. Toronto has experienced the greatest influx of asylum claimants of any municipality of Ontario.

In April, the province announced an additional $202 million annually, including an additional $48 million for Toronto, in homelessness prevention programs to help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness and to support community organizations delivering supportive housing.

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