Community Conversations

Welcome to the EYET Community Conversations page. 

The EYET Community Conversation series seeks to bring us together, to engage, to collaborate, to build community, and to share skills and strategies for facing the unique challenges that this pandemic has presented.  

These Community Conversations focus on specific, relevant, and timely housing and homelessness related topics, and invite housing professionals, managers, administrators, and service users together to work collaboratively on identifying needs, discussing strategies for meeting those needs, and sharing skills and ideas that have worked well.  

Our Community Conversations are solutions-oriented, and facilitated by EYET staff and guest presenters. The ideas shared in our working groups are captured and compiled in this space for the benefit of the sector. Check the materials and resources that we have made available under each Community Conversation topic, shared by housing professionals from across Toronto. 

EYET’s Community Conversation: Return to in-person: Emerging from the COVID-19 Pandemic

During the Community Conversation on August 18, 2022, we hosted a panel discussion with three distinguished guests, each holding management positions within well-known non-profit agencies. They provided their views on how demand for services increased throughout the pandemic and what that entailed for frontline staff at their respective locations. We learned that a high demand for services has continued along with creative and innovative approaches for addressing persistent challenges.

In facilitated small-group conversations, we found that participants were experiencing some of the same challenges at their places of work. Clients appear to have the same or similar needs, as they did during the pandemic, including a need for housing, food security, and employment to name a few.

See below for highlights from the panel discussion followed by notes taken during the breakout activity organized under themes.

Highlights from August 18th Panel Discussion with Alaka Brahma, Rejwan Karim, Sarah Singh:

  • During the first part of the pandemic a number of agencies saw an increase in funding for programs addressing the impacts on community members.
  • Agencies also saw a huge increase in demand for all types of services (Ex. housing, food security, employment, etc.)
  • Demand in housing services has resulted in having to prioritize which clients to help first. For example, helping a survivor of domestic violence versus a first time applicant to Access to Housing.
  • Many of our services had to pivot to virtual, but now that in person offices are opening up again there is an expectation that hybrid models will continue. In some cases, staff were making home visits during the pandemic and now clients are expecting the same level of service while funding cuts are beginning to take place.
  • It was noted that client mental health has been a challenge for frontline staff with more complaints happening. To address this, agencies have been providing training to staff members on de-escalation and conflict resolution, for example.
  • Ensuring staff wellness is also a concern for Managers. Managers have had to make sure staff are well and staff have had to take care of themselves in order to be there for clients.
  • Another strategy mentioned involves placing caps on the number of applications staff have to process to a level staff can realistically achieve.
  • Future outlook is uncertain. Will our services have to close down again? Trying to prepare for that. It is important to reflect on what has been learned and bring these learnings into the future. For example, make sure there is a pool of relief staff to ensure a level of continued service, if staff need to be away.

Notes taken during Breakout Groups:

Hybrid Models

  • Some drop-ins never closed, even during pandemic shutdown restrictions
  • Hybrid (in person, over the phone, by email, visits at home or out in the community)
  • Partially closed agencies that clients had a hard time navigating
  • Agencies that underwent location changes during the pandemic placing more stress on to staff

What we learned: Whether or not an organization closed to in person services during the pandemic, the demand for services has generally gone up and has not decreased. This also means that for services that went virtual or hybrid, there is now an expectation that these alternative service models (in person, over the phone, by email, visits at home and/or out in the community) should continue and have in essence created more work for service professionals.

Challenges Facing our Clients

  • Continued housing crisis at the municipal, provincial and national levels.
  • Clients with mental health, anxiety and anger about the housing situation.
  • Clients not being able to access “in demand” services right away. Having to wait in line just like everybody else.
  • New Access to Housing online centralized waitlist portal: 1) Clients not being able to use the portal independently (no email or laptop) and staff having to essentially process 100% of the application for them. 2) Getting client’s paperwork together for the Access to Housing application (e.g. taxes). 3) Even if someone expresses interest in a unit, does not mean that they will get the unit.
  • The wait for Special Priority Category (SPP) application is more than 1 year to get offers.
  • SPP clients have to live in abusive situations longer. Or live in shelters longer.
  • Continued housing challenges in the private rental market (bidding wars, discriminatory practices by landlords, affordability, etc.)
  • Increased poverty
  • Client scenario: A family of refugees from Afghanistan. They were asked for 4 to 5 months’ rent in advance. It seems as if landlords can ask for anything they want. The family is completely dependent on food banks. They have no furniture. Currently sleeping on carpets.

Strategies and Tactics

  • Staff and managers are having to work together and use what they have access to.
  • Workload caps on the number of clients being served.
    • Even though this helps so that workers don’t get overwhelmed or overworked. This does not necessarily address situations where new clients approach an agency saying that they are about to lose their place or instances where they have already lost their place. So demand is still there.
  • Limiting time spent in direct service with individual clients and placing time limits for how long a client can stay at a drop-in.
  • Frontline staff having to offer emotional support and validation to clients. At the same time asking clients for their patience because this is the reality of the situation right now.

Staff Mental Health and Burnout

  • Supportive supervisors that recognize when staff are becoming overworked and allow for some flexibility to manage this (by allowing staff to come in later the next day for instance).
  • Managers frequently checking in with staff to avoid burnout.
  • Vacation days for staff and ability to arrange coverage.
  • Staff having to move out of Toronto for more affordable housing. Trying to call them back to work is challenging, if they require child care.

Our Present Situation

  • Resources still being offered are helpful like food bank services, hygiene kits, harm reduction supplies, etc.
  • The message from one group was that this is only the beginning of hard times to come. We are not through the pandemic.
  • Regarding funding cuts to housing support programs:
    • We haven’t seen the impact of this as of yet.
    • There is a lack of housing for people.
    • Are cuts to funding going to escalate the current housing crisis?
    • All services are under-resourced. E.g. Food banks, mental health supports, etc.
    • Due to increased poverty it may become more difficult to manage clients living in these situations
    • Essentially there will be less housing resources for people in this city.

EYET’s Community Conversation: Exploring challenges and barriers for LGBTQ+ Newcomers

During the Community Conversation on April 27, 2022, we invited a guest presenter from Access Alliance Multicultural Health & Community Services to speak about key findings from their 2021 published report on Beyond Positive Intentions – supporting the social services sector with the purpose of advancing well-being and equity for LGBTQ+ Newcomers. 

In the facilitated small-group conversations, most event participants did not find this report surprising as many of them have witnessed that LGBTQ +Newcomers are one the most vulnerable and neglected groups in our communities. Unfortunately, they often arrive here in the mind that you could find a safe space, but find it challenging to settle down. 

In the breakout groups, participants also discussed the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ Newcomers and shared some solutions and resources. Click Here to see a list of resources for LGBTQ+ Newcomers.

Key Challenges Identified: 

  • In one instance, an LGBTQ+ Newcomer stayed with family members for a certain amount of time, and when the family found out about their sexual orientation, they had to leave. 
  • In general, LGBTQ+ Newcomers face problems of having no privacy and staying in unacceptable accommodations like a storage room. 
  • Citizenship status is a big issue. 
  • Barriers faced by LGBTQ+ Newcomers include being disrespected and excluded even within LGBTQ+ specific services.  
  • The experiences of refugees with families, and if services change for them when they disclose their LGBTQ+ identity. 
  • A main challenge for health service providers/practitioners is making ‘dead end’ referrals to housing support, which results in clients being placed on a 15 year wait list. 
  • Within primary care, lack of knowledge and awareness of community resources for this population. 
  • Newcomers face discrimination with landlords in regards to race, their source of income and having low income.  
  • Landlords request a credit check, but LGBTQ+ Newcomers don’t have a history in the country. 
  • Income is a big challenge for newcomers. There is simply not enough transitional or supportive housing. 
  • Private market rental units are mostly unaffordable. 
  • Housing workers work from ‘Housing First’ model, but this could represent a barrier – clients need to focus on finding housing rather than securing work that could assist them in finding and maintaining housing. 
  • Other barriers include language, low knowledge of Canada/city they are in, combined with addressing mental health and/or emotional needs. 
  • There are very few services for individuals with intersecting identities (ex. trans man who is pregnant). The more variables in a person’s life the harder it is. 


  • Spreading knowledge of rental laws, and the tenants’ rights. It is essential to have information like this in the particular language, keeping LGBTQ+ Newcomers in mind. 
  • LGBTQ+ Newcomers often require more privacy in some cases. There should be a recognition of this and there should be more subsidies available to them. 
  • Mandatory training for landlords. 
  • A forum like this needs to be created where community workers can speak with other people in similar fields. More awareness and education need to be created to advocate for LGBTQ+ Newcomers at various levels.  
  • More agencies should start having these discussions. There should be best practices developed. 
  • Sharing of available resources is important so that whenever community workers meet people who need them, good connections are already established to refer them. 
  • City-run shelter workers need to get ongoing training and information about how to work with this population. 
  • There should be more hiring of LGBTQ+ newcomers in helping roles, to create more visibility. 
  • Housing is a human right and should be looked at this way by everyone including landlords. 
  • It is important to know that sometimes LGBTQ+ Newcomers want to avoid people from their own communities. 
  • Even though more shelters are being made for Newcomers. More needs to be done for LGBTQ+ Newcomers, specifically. 
  • One-time training is not enough to address the needs of LGBTQ+ Newcomers. Accountability is important and involves leadership and government to get involved. 
  • Accountability mechanisms should be in place where complaints can be brought to municipal government / housing commissioner. 
  • More needs to be done on the ground. An example is rotation of shelter staff. Agencies often use casual, on calls or relief staff. Communication between these staff and regular employees needs to improve. Clients are having to repeat their needs and story, which lacks consistency and could be triggering for these individuals. 
  • Shelter staff need to use an intersectional lens and try not to erase culture. Clients should be allowed to keep their identities and staff should learn how to address diversity, inclusion and equity.

Click Here to see a list of resources for LGBTQ+ Newcomers

EYET’s Community Conversation: Aging in Place, Featuring the Steering Committee on Aging in Place, Toronto 

People living with mental illness and addictions have complex health and social needs, are at higher risk of experiencing poverty, homelessness, and housing instability, and are at a higher risk of experiencing the effects of aging prematurely. People aging prematurely – before the age of 65 – are unable to access supports and services, including supportive housing, that is reserved for seniors in the community.  

In 2019, the Aging in Place Project, funded by Mainstay Housing and supported by the Aging in Place multi-stakeholder Steering Committee, produced Aging in Place: Current and Emerging Needs of a Vulnerable Population.  

On September 15, 2021, EYET invited the Steering Committee on Aging in Place, Toronto, to participate in a Community Conversation focused on engaging with housing professionals about how to better support the unique housing needs of a prematurely aging population. 

During this Community Conversation, members of the Aging in Place Steering Committee spoke to key findings from that report, identified some of the unique needs of an early aging population, and offered some insights into the systemic barriers to housing stability that are faced by this community.  

Using facilitated small-group conversations, housing professionals discussed the challenges experienced related to housing stability and evection prevention for clients who are aging prematurely, shared strategies that they and their organizations use to manage those challenges, discussed resources that exist – or are missing – that would be helpful for housing professionals, and identified some of the system changes that would be required to support stable housing for people who are aging prematurely.  

Key Challenges Identified: 

Access to Suitable Housing Options  

  • Waitlists through Access Point is extremely long, leaving many people waiting until the end of their loves  
  • There are some housing options that can be accessed at age 55, but there are not enough spaces for seniors, let along options for younger people who exhibit the signs of aging early 
  • Buildings with elevators – and program services and housing with elevators – is limited, and accommodation requests will frequently leave people with mobility limitations unhoused or rejected from applications  
  • There are some congregate living houses that are agency-operated, but they often have stairs and are not physically accessible, and there is not enough funding allocated to those upgrades by funders  
  • There is a severe limitation of available long-term care for people who are not seniors  

Available Supports 

  • Clients that experience premature aging often need connection to supports that are targeted and available to seniors. Because this population do not meet the age eligibility requirements, they are left without access, creating a gap in needs-to-services 
  • Medication costs can be extremely high, and there are no income supports committed to prescription coverage for a prematurely aging population 
  • Many clients need a case management approach to providing supports, but service agencies are limited and there are not enough case managers to support their needs, help them manage their health and wellbeing, and maintain their housing 

Eligibility Limitations  

  • Some services are eligible to very specific, severe cases and people whose health is deteriorating rapidly are unable to apply until their condition meets eligibility, even though there is a clear trajectory in place  
  • Income supports are limited, ODSP does not cover enough for housing and clients are ineligible for other seniors-specific funding and income supports, despite sharing many of the same barriers, challenges, and needs 
  • Seniors’ waitlists are long, and clients are not able to apply to those waitlists early, which would allow less wait time after into eligibility 


  • A lack of social connection and access pathways to community engagement has left many prematurely aging community members isolated, and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic only exasperated that isolation 
  • People need to feel safe to access resources in their area, it’s challenging when people have to move outside of their current communities in order to find affordable or supportive housing, which increases isolation 

Cultural and Language Differences 

  • Many clients – especially immigrant and refugee populations – have cultural expectations around aging (ie. family support) that are different from the Canadian cultural context which puts pressure on family dynamics, and on workers who may be faced with language barriers and risks of breeching confidentiality when communicating to family members on behalf of clients  
  • Language barriers can prohibit clients from communicating their needs, from accessing appropriate medical services that could support access to services (ie: communicating medical experiences to physicians, workers, and others)  


  • Individuals with developmental disabilities age faster, and premature aging is not encapsulated within the services and financial supports available for people with disabilities  
  • People with developmental disabilities have shorter life expectancies, and systems were set up with this expectation, but people who are living longer than expected are falling through the cracks 

Transition Supports  

  • When circumstances change, often abruptly, there is no clear, easeful pathway to transition to different types of supports 
  • For example, when people with disabilities who have been living independently experiencing a medical crisis that results in a sudden need for supportive living are left in limbo: they can’t be discharged to their independent living situations, and a new process of resource identification, application, and wait lists must begin 

Strategies to Meet Challenges: 

Group Homes for Living and Aging Together  

  • New buildings designed with accessibility and B3 Care Standards enable aging in place, as they are specifically constructed to be able to add in door openers, lifts, and other things that may be needed as a person ages 
  • Apartment approach is easier to support aging in place than houses, as there are often physical accessibility considerations constructed into the buildings, and residents may have more access to a sense of community that could combat isolation 

Supportive Housing and My Access to Housing  

  • Supporting clients in their application for Supportive Housing and My Access to Housing is helpful, and ensuring clients understand how the priority waitlist operated so that there is clarity on the wait times 
  • Advocating for clients to be moved up the waitlist if they are exhibiting signs of progressive illness, in anticipation of them needing supportive housing after independent living 

Case Management 

  • Eliminating a time limit on case management for clients who are exhibiting early signs of aging, ensuring they have case managers through to end-of-life care 

Medical Support  

  • Including medical support to meet the added challenge of clients not trusting the medical system due to experiences of dismissal and judgement 
  • Referring clients to Community Health Centres to find medical treatment, which are quite knowledgeable and empathetic to early aging populations 
  • Accompanying clients to medical appointments to ensure their symptoms of early aging are being communicated and addressed 

Community Education and Outreach  

  • It would be helpful to collaboratively create a guideline for people who are experiencing early signs of aging so that they can understand their medical needs, create a plan for self-advocacy, and access the supports they can anticipate needing 
  • This guide should include information and education about different medical conditions that can arise with early aging, common treatments, and expectations for treatment and healing journeys 

Helpful Resources 

Community Resources and Referrals  

Resource Gaps 

Coalition or Alliance  

  • An association or central organization that focuses on this specific issue would be helpful, and organizations could work together to share experiences, lobby for changes, and create a stronger voice about the needs of this population 
  • A central organization could also provide literature and information in multiple languages about premature aging, targeted to the population itself 


  • Specialized training available for service providers that is dedicated to premature aging, including strategies for support, eligibility and programming, and advocacy  

Technical Support  

  • Access to devices, and skill development training for use 
  • Access to devices that are outside the home to support the needs of community members who are residing with abusers  
  • Supports for creating email addresses and learning how to update digital files  
  • Access to, and training on, scanners and file uploading requirements for My Access to Housing Toronto 

Resources within the Shelter System  

  • Training for staff dedicated to building trust and improving shelter staff and community member relationships, to push back on perceptions of being policed or over-regulated  
  • Resources within the shelter system for transitional housing options for prematurely aging populations  

System Change 


  • Pressure on the City to put in place more supportive housing and in-house services  
  • Education in the Medical Field about the impacts that the Social Determinants of Health have on aging, specifically  
  • More case managers and case planning with realistic expectations about the length of client-facing appointments
  • Computer and tech provision to accompany the My Access to Housing changes and system expectations 

Record Keeping and Data Sharing  

  • Centralized file keeping and updating to avoid the need to re-upload information to multiple channels  
  • Centralized computer stations through My Access to Housing, where service users can access their centrally kept files  

Education, Training, Guidance  

  • Guidance for workers on how to access necessary services faster, before medical conditions escalate  
  • Resources and training on how to address the question of premature aging  
  • Centralized information on resources and referral options 

Eligibility Re-Definition, “Senior” Redefined   

  • Better definition of “senior” is needed, based on development and health condition; this has been acknowledged in the National Seniors Strategy 
  • Leverage the re-definition of “Senior” from National Dementia Strategy  
  • Re-define eligibility requirements for government programs and supports around specific health conditions rather than age 
  • Open long-term care to health-based eligibility 
  • If age-based eligibility persists, allow early applications for people who are anticipating aging, to reduce wait times once eligible  

Funding Priorities  

  • Realistic, service-provider directed needs assessment from all funders  
  • Language and interpretation support, and free translation and interpretation from all government agencies, including My Access to Housing and Income Supports
  • Technology access funding to ensure access for clients to computers, internet, phones, data, etc.  
  • Transition supports for life changes that easefully shift someone from one type of programming/support to another, without having to re-apply or do a new application procedure  

The current state of evictions and potential strategies for promoting housing stability after the most recent province-wide lockdown.

East York East Toronto Family Resources (EYET) hosted a Community Conversation on June 9th featuring the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation (CERA) to gather housing professionals from across Toronto to learn more about the current state of evictions in the City of Toronto and discuss challenges and potential strategies for promoting housing stability after the most recent province-wide lockdown.

Breakout groups were offered space to share services available at their own agencies, to share concerns and identify community needs, and to consider skills and strategies that could support the work of maintaining housing for those impacted most by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The breakout rooms invited conversation around three prompts:  

  • Eviction Prevention: What have the impacts of Bill 184 been in the work of eviction prevention?  What strategies are you using to prevent evictions? Are you supporting the creation of rent arrears repayment plans? 
  • Eviction Support: How are you strategically preparing to support clients through the anticipated influx of evictions? How have you been supporting clients through online eviction hearings? 
  • Services and Referrals: What services and supports are you offering, or are you referring your clients to, to better support them in either keeping their housing, or preparing for evictions? 

The conversations highlighted some significant challenges that are shared by housing professionals and service users across the City of Toronto, shed some light on the unmet needs of service users in the current economic climate, and identified some strategies and resources that housing professionals have found helpful in the work of housing stability.  

Sector Needs and Identified Issues: 

Language support for clients:  

Participants identified the challenges that tenants who do not speak English as a first language face in fighting evictions and maintaining housing. 

Issues include: 

  • Rental agreements and leases are legal documents that need to be translated and there is limited capacity and budgets for agencies to translate/hire translation services 
  • Negotiations and mediation with landlords can require translation, and tenants with limited English language proficiency do not have access to translation support to ensure they are fully understanding the terms of the negotiation or mediation  
  • The Landlord Tenant Board does not offer translation services, and so tenants that must go to the LTB are forced to participate in complex legal proceedings that are conducted in English, limiting their capacity to fully access the proceedings and fully communicate their side  
  • The changes that Bill 184 have introduced has resulted in some arrear repayment negotiations being pushed by landlords, and some tenants would need those negotiations and the contracts translated, but resources for translation are limited  
  • There are limited grants, funds, and resources available for translation services within frontline service agencies or within social services systems  
  • Income supports programs and other systems of support (both governmental and nongovernmental) are provided and presented in English and (sometimes) French; translation services are uncommon  

Participants named the strategy of mobilizing internal resources such as staff and volunteers who have offered translation supports for tenants, and identified a need for more funding supports and advocacy for translation services to be offered by governmental bodies, including the LTB as a solution to this challenge.  

System Navigation for clients and housing professionals:  

Participants identified the challenge that both housing professionals as well as tenants face in navigating processes and procedures within social service systems.  

Issues include: 

  • Inconsistent and conflicting experiences when speaking with representatives from government programs such as ODSP and OW
  • A lack of clarity in standard practices in government programs 
  • The shift to remote working during the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a decreased capacity for workers and tenants to connect with government agencies, which has increased risk of losing housing  
  • Increased requests for support in making applications to receive a subsidy, as a result of reduced employment and prolonged unemployment during the Covid-19 pandemic  
  • The shift to the Rent Café Portal has caused workers and tenants challenges in needing to learn to navigate a new system on top of an increased workload  
  • Access to Housing Centralized waitlist applications have increased, while the waitlist length has grown
  • People experiencing homelessness have named discomfort at the intrusive questions from Central Intake, which has been traumatizing for some people 
  • The shelter system remains overwhelmed, and people are staying homeless longer without shelter  
  • Tenants are reporting a lack of clarity around the eviction processes, and there is a lack of standardized resources to explain the process  
  • Social housing or RGI subsidies are challenging to navigate; HSF is less challenging, but require the knowledge of how to negotiate with TCH and OW/ODSP Caseworkers    

Participants identified a need for clarity in government program procedures and increased accessible and free training for both workers as well as tenants in system navigation.  

Financial Support and Budgeting: 

Participants identified a major challenge that financial management and budgeting have caused tenants, and the ongoing inadequacy of income support rates as related to the increasingly high market rental rates in Toronto.  

Issues include: 

  • Ensuring that clients are budgeting accordingly to plan for rent payments in the long term  
  • The need for increased knowledge and training around resources available to ODSP and OW recipients  
  • More information and free, accessible training on the Covid-19 supports, such as CERB; some tenants had identified the issue of being told they must repay their CERB without having planned for that cost  
  • A lack of clarity around the eviction ban has resulted in some tenants halting rent payment and now being faced with insurmountable arrears and unrealistic repayment plans  
  • Bill 184 has resulted in tenants that do not have adequate support negotiating unrealistic repayment plans and being evicted rapidly  
  • High market rental costs are forcing tenants to withhold rent because they have to choose between rent payment and essential goods like food, medicine, utilities, etc – some tenants would have to choose one or the other and had been alternating, building up arrears over time  
  • Lack of access to subsidies for the internet, especially as the internet has been crucial to employment since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic  
  • Budgeting for rent has been challenging and adding arrears repayment plans on top of rent payment is unrealistic for a lot of tenants, and they are at risk of losing their housing  
  • Many tenants relying on income supports receive monthly payments that are not enough to cover the high costs of rent in Toronto 

Participants named creative strategies to support client budgeting such as undertaking annual income reviews to adjust budgets, and negotiating for keeping rent as low as possible, even for tenants that are not on RGI. Participants aim to set tenants up with housing that is the lowest cost possible, and connect them to other subsidies like LEAP or resources like the food banks to make up their needs. Some participants have worked out a pre-payment plan with ODSP or OW to add an extra $50 or $100 to their rent so that arrears are received directly by sending the N4 to the ODSP or OW worker.   

Sector Strategies of Support:  

Collaborative partnerships for effective referrals:  

Participants noted a need for collaboration, connection, and partnership development across the sector to create pathways for support for tenants at risk of losing housing, or unable to secure housing.  

Opportunities for collaboration include:  

  • Advocacy to call for subsidies, increased income supports payments, funding for language services, and continued rent freezes  
  • Translation supports between housing support service agencies and newcomer support services, and advocating for language supports to be offered by the LTB 
  • Sharing background information when a client moves out of one catchment area into another  
  • Housing help centres and legal clinics for easeful referrals and support when facing an eviction notice  
  • Coordinated service provision 
  • Coordinated information about THAP and how to access  
  • Coordinated landlord/housing provider information
  • Referral sheets that can be shared across the sector, identifying services in different areas of the city  
  • Coordinated community mapping  
  • Connection to municipal standards group to build advocacy and support on the tenant side      

Proactive Planning & Early Intervention:  

Participants recognized the importance of early intervention and creating proactive plans for mitigating the risk of eviction for a tenant, upon intake.  

Some planning and intervention strategies include:  

  • Preparing a safety plan with clients regarding their options in the case of eviction, before an eviction notice is even served
  • In the case of a likely eviction, include a soft-landing strategy that sees clients preparing for accessing a shelter bed before the eviction takes place, in case there is a wait list, to ensure there is no gap between housing and shelter 
  • Applying for mediation to avoid a hearing and to avoid the sheriff
  • Setting up direct payment between income supports and landlord, or setting up a trust with the agency to pay rent and/or arrears on the behalf of a tenant who consents to do so  
  • Note: there is no pay direct option for tenants on a senior’s income; this is a gap, but they can set up PAP payment from their bank account instead 
  • Engage in a case management approach from the beginning of the relationship with the client to avoid getting to the place of eviction, where possible  
  • Walking tenants through CRA documents, Service Canada calls, and other systems for accessing financial resources 
  • Work towards a realistic repayment plan as soon as the arrears show up
  • Ask for tenants to bring all documentation required to receive a subsidy to the intake appointment: notice of assessment from last tax filing year; identification; indication of status in Canada; bank statements; etc. – this will help identify early on what could be missing, and build a tenant’s personal file for any potential applications, streamlining the process  
  • As a worker, triage clients based on date of eviction notice and severity of case to ensure high workload does not mean people are falling through the cracks

Tenant Education and Support: 

Participants named the education of tenants as a huge factor in preparing tenants for successful tenancies and maintaining housing. Gaps to knowledge around housing, rights and responsibilities, and system processes have led to high rates of evictions, and proactive education and support is the most effective eviction prevention tool.  

Some strategies for tenant education and support include: 

  • Education about rights as a tenant, including providing an information sheet upon tenancy, translated to their first language if possible, using clear and accessible language  
  • Educate tenants that they have a right to demand a standard lease – often tenants are evicted due to the lack of a formal lease, or verbal leases that are easier to be broken  
  • Providing FAQ sheets that detail some common misconceptions about tenant rights (ie: withholding rent due to maintenance issues; having to move out as soon as an eviction notice is served; the landlord can change your locks) 
  • Provide “common scenarios in tenancies” to inform tenants about what to avoid and what to watch for if their tenancy is at risk 
  • Provide tenants with viable options when they cannot make their rent (ie: paying something is better than paying nothing because showing effort will take them further in the case of an LTB hearing or mediation) 
  • When facing evictions, a detailed step-by-step overview of how the LTB process works so that clients can feel prepared and there are no surprises  
  • Bearing witness for clients to support their evidence collection in case of an LTB hearing 
  • Creating a promissory note, if possible, to give to a landlord to avoid eviction in the case of arrears  
  • Engaging in skill building with tenants around talking to landlords and assertive communication, including role playing a conversation with landlord 
  • Provide technology on-site, if possible, so that clients can attend LTB virtual hearings if they do not have access to the internet or a computer  
  • Provide a “virtual hub” accessible to clients where they can access computers to attend hearings, print/sign leases, print/sign documents required 
  • Ensure tenants understand the reality of market rent, especially tenants who have been in the same unit for several years and are now at risk of eviction 

Landlord Engagement and Mediation:  

Proactive relationship building between tenants, their landlords, and housing professionals can contribute to housing stability in case of situations where eviction is a risk. Ensuring that landlords know that the tenant is supported can help  

Some strategies for engaging with landlord and undertaking mediation include: 

  • Ensuring that landlords know the tenant is supported by making direct connections to mitigate the risk of a tenant being unfairly treated  
  • Bear witness for tenants who are experiencing challenges with their landlord or their unit to make sure landlords and property managers are following the rules  
  • Offer evidence collection support, like photos, email drafting, 311 reporting, in the case of substandard maintenance  
  • Offer mediation services, where possible, or refer to mediation services between the tenant and the landlord to reach an agreement and negotiate arrears repayment  
  • Educate landlords about tenant rights, income supports, and resources accessible to tenants who are at risk of eviction, advocating for more time before an eviction notice is served  
  • Work with Rent Bank or HSF to find funds to make payments in good faith if rent can’t be made or arrears repayment plans are extensively long  
  • Ensure that any rental agreement is understood by the tenant, and offer translation services or plain-language versions of an agreement, where needed  
  • Mitigate the power imbalance between landlords and tenants in the case of repayment plans by letting both landlords and tenants know that you will support arrears repayment plans to avoid the landlord offering a plan that is unrealistic, and the tenant feeling pushed to sign and set up for failure  
  • Encourage tenants to get to know their neighbours in the building and connect around shared experiences, developing community in a shared building can support tenant rights, and connect them to a tenant organizing organization like the Federation of Metro Tenants Association for support

Helpful Resources:   

Participants shared the most helpful resources, programs, services, and supports that their clients have accessed in maintaining housing stability after the lifting of the eviction moratorium in Ontario.  

Resource Description  
Toronto Rent Bank Interest-free loans for people facing arrears or other emergency housing costs. Currently operating a grant program offering non-repayable supports to anyone who lives in Toronto, pays market rent in an RTA-covered unit, is low-income but not on OW or ODSP, and meets other requirements.  
Furniture Bank  Social enterprise redistributing gently-used furniture and housewares to community members in need.  
Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) Financial support for emergency housing needs for people who are recipients of OW or ODSP in Toronto. 
Neighbourhood Information Post Housing Trusteeship Program Provides short-term assistance to stabilize housing for eligible community members in Downtown Toronto and Scarborough 
St. Stephen’s Community House Trustee Program Provides money management assistance to facilitate an improved, independent lifestyle for community members with a history of substance use and homelessness, through a stated Harm Reduction lens.  
Trusteeship and Pay Direct, Ontario Works  Information on how to establish a Trusteeship, and access to the Appointment of Trustee form.  
Legal Aid Ontario: Find a Legal Clinic Tool to identify catchment area based on postal code for legal clinics in Ontario. 
Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) Grant program for folks struggling to pay past due energy bills.  
Toronto Subsidized Housing List  List of units and properties that include RGI eligibility and the Commercial Rent Supplement Program.  
Rent Geared to Income Subsidy Subsidy from the City of Toronto to make rent affordable, relative to someone’s income rather than market rent value.  
Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation: Tenant Rights Resources for tenant education on rights and obligations.  
Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario (ACTO) Legal advice, tip sheets, resources, and advocacy around tenant rights in Ontario 
Duty Counsel Offices Ontario  Free legal advice for people who cannot afford a lawyer or do not have representation  
Eviction Prevention in the Community (EPIC)  City-provided wrap around eviction prevention services, from Shelter, Support, and Housing Administration (SSHA) EPIC only accepts referrals from specific partner agencies Learn more about the EPIC program in their Pilot Program Evaluation from 2018 here.  
Shelter and Supportive Housing  Division of the City that oversees social housing, centralized waitlist, emergency shelters and supports, street outreach, and housing stability services.  
Evelyn Massey Centre for Women Baby and Me program supporting 15–25-year-old people who are pregnant or parenting to get a rental subsidy, as well as tenant rights information for young mothers  Residential program for young mothers 13 years or older during post or pre-natal 
The Neighbourhood Group Does referrals to EPIC  
ENAGB Indigenous Youth Agency (ENAGB-IYA) Indigenous agency serving youth 12-29 years old with cultural, employment, life skills, holistic wellness, and recreational opportunities.  
City of Toronto Homeless Help Directory  List of active supports available for people experiencing homelessness in Toronto, including shelter diversion program  
City of Toronto Benefit Finder A tool to help identify benefits that you may be eligible for if you live in Toronto  
West Toronto Housing Help Services Housed within West Toronto Community Legal Services, this housing help centre is a unique program situated within one of the 17 legal clinics in the city.  
Streets to Homes City funded program helping people transition from living on the street into permanent housing.  Assists with follow up workers for a year after being housed to ensure rent payments, mediation, and other supports.  
Access Point Toronto  Centralized point of access to apply for mental health support, addictions support, and supportive housing.  
Federation of Metro Tenants Association (FMTA) Resources, information, templates, and supports for collaborative organizing and forming tenant associations in multi-unit dwellings. 
Ve’ahavta Community agency with case managers offering one-on-one sessions with clients who participate in their training programs. Programs include Essential Skills Training, Expressive Arts, Relief and Referral, and Paid Work Training Placement program.  
Indigenous Supportive Housing Program (ISHP) Program from Anishnawbe Health that offers monthly rental subsidies, when available, to make housing affordable for community members with mental health and/or addictions issues, support in accessing other subsidies, and other eviction prevention services.  
Aboriginal Housing Support Centre Project developed by Wigwamen Incorporated that supports Indigenous people meet their housing needs.  
Native Women Portal  Housing Outreach Program provides services for housing stabilization for Indigenous women and girls.  
North Toronto Support Services  Mental Health and Justice Initiative provides housing support for folks currently or at-risk of homelessness who are involved in the criminal punishment system.  

Community Mapping for Effective Referrals

On June 25th 2020, housing professionals from across Toronto gathered in a series of Community Conversations to collectively discuss the ways in which the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic has caused significant shifts in the ways agencies are able to provide services for clients who need them, resulting in uncertainties and inconsistencies in the availability of some supports. 

Together, housing professionals shared services available at their own agencies, discussed shifts and changes to services for referrals, and identified new services that have emerged since the beginning of the pandemic to provide adapted supports for clients. Gaps in services were highlighted in an effort to share challenges and strategies for addressing them.  

The conversations produced a number of resources that can support holistic, client-centered services by offering:  

  • Housing Help 
  • Financial Support  
  • Food and Basic Needs 
  • Employment and Life Skills  
  • Health and Wellness  
  • Social Supports  
  • Specific services that are limited, or needs that continue to be largely unmet, during the COVID-19 pandemic include: 
  • Mental health supports, increasing as people continue to be isolated 
  • Social supports and opportunities for community building  
  • Telephones and internet access as physical spaces continue to be closed 
  • Harm reduction and safe consumption outside of the downtown core 
  • Daycare and parenting support  
  • Eviction prevention, as the LTB opens in July there is an anticipation of high volumes of evictions that have been prohibited 
  • Supports for international students & newcomers who are ineligible for many programs 
  • Service bottlenecks that are inconsistent between media advertising and availability of services, long wait times  

Identified Services and Supports

A-Way-Express Consumer/Survivor led courier company 
In addition: 


    • Food Bank on Wednesdays 1pm until 3pm only
    • Employment Counselling online
Food and basic needs 


Employment and Life Skills 

A-Way Express 
Reena Updated information for organizations and community members on how to maintain safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health and Wellness Reena Covid-19 Community Resources 
Evangel Hall 
  • Take-out Meals, Mondays to Thursdays, 10:30am to 12:30pm (counselling being offered outside)
  • Clothing bank by request only (no donations)
  • Washrooms (allowing people to enter one at a time)
Food and basic needs 




Spiritual Services 

Evangel Hall Mission 


Evangel Hall Housing 

Adjusted Drop-in Services (including meals) 

John Howard Society 
  • Danforth location: Harm Reduction equipment 
  • Other services are over the phone (transitioning to seeing one client at a time in outdoor locations) 
Harm Reduction supplies John Howard Society of Toronto Services 
Furniture Bank 
  • Phone ahead of time 
  • Home deliveries will resume by July 6th 
  • Accepting corporate donations only at this time 
  • May offer virtual tours in future 
  •  – Still doing some deliveries 
  • Can’t go and look at furniture 
  • No option for pick-up 
  • Flat rate for delivery of furniture 

Alternative options: 

  • Habitat for Humanity has furniture on website 


  • For Women, interest free loans for furniture when moving into a new place 


Income Supports for Women 

Accessing Furniture Bank Services 
Toronto Public Libraries 
  • Hotspot (internet) and computer lending 
  • 17 locations to open on June 29th 
  • Will open for computer use and holds, curbside pick-ups 
  • July 20th rest of TPL locations that can open will open 



Wireless Hotspots 

TPL Services 


TPL Reopening Plan 

Mustard Seed Take-a-lunch on Friday, Saturday and Sunday Food and basic needs Mustard Seed Program 
Native Child and Family Services Youth location: 


  • Help Indigenous Youth to find housing 
  • By appointment only 
  • Online by Zoom and Instagram 

Food Hamper Services (once per week) 

  • For Indigenous community 
  • Youth and families 
  • Call: 416-979-8510 or 437-217-3278 

Mental Health Support Strategic Partnership 



Food and basic needs 

Youth Services 

Mental Health Support Strategy 

City of Toronto 930 Subsidy allowances for people on waitlists: 


  • Housing Connections (for anyone) 
  • For Indigenous People (Wigwamen, Gabriel Dumont, Anishinaabe Homes, Amik) 
Income Supports City of Toronto Covid Service Updates 


Rent Geared to Income Subsidy 

Housing Connections 

City of Toronto Cooling Centres 


  • Locations mainly downtown 
  • Need more around the city 
  • Need access to phones, washrooms, and drinking water, Internet and computers 
Health and Wellness 


Basic Needs 

List of Cooling Centres 
211 Continues to provide service and referral information over the phone and online.  Varied Ontario 211 
Chalmers Bot Requires a computer. Provides regularly updated services available near you through map, including:  


  • Emergency shelter 
  • Food  
  • Clothing depots 
  • Drop-ins open 
Varied Chalmers Bot Website 
Redeemers Common Table Drop-In  Updated Listing Locations for:  


  • Food 
  • Drop-ins 
  • Shelter 
  • Wifi, phones, hotspots 
  • Washrooms, Showers 
  • Clothing, Laundry 
Varied Covid-19 Resource Guide Pamphlet 


Common Table Meal Program 

Common Table Drop-in  

Native Women’s Resource Centre Offering: 


  • Online Counselling 
  • Support Line 
  • Support Email 8AM-12AM 
Health and Wellness 
NWRTC Website 
Yonge Street Mission Now offering: 


  • Food Bank Services 
  • Mental Health Services 
Health and Wellness 


Food and Basic Needs 

YSM Modified Services Directory 
Street Health Offers updated food bank directory Food and Basic Needs Food Banks Directory 
George Brown College Augmented Education Offering free employability skills programming with 82% employment rate:  


  • Culinary Skills Preparatory (September) 
  • Construction Craftworker Foundation 
Employment and Life Skills Augmented Education Program 
Rogers Connected for Success Program:  


  • Partnership Agreement for Low-cost internet access 
Basic Needs Connected for Success Info 
Ontario Works Offices allow people to use their phones  Basic Needs 



OW Office Locations 
Choice in Health Clinic Offering abortion services  Health and Wellness  Choice in Health Covid Contact Information 
University Health Network Changes to service delivery include: 


  • Home delivery program 
  • Food delivery  
  • Virtual Care  
Health and Wellness  UHN Covid Updates 
Rexdale Community Health Clinic RCHC is undertaking ongoing advocacy to open more Harm Reduction and Safe Consumption Sites beyond the downtown core of Toronto. Join their advocacy efforts.  Health and Wellness  Rexdale Adapted Healthcare Services Directory 

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