What is subsidized housing?

Subsidized housing allows people to pay rent according to how much money they make.

Who can apply for subsidized housing?  

  • Families
  • Single people (16 years and older)
  • Seniors
  • People with disabilities who can live on their own without help, unless arranged with a non-profit organization

How do I know if I can apply?

Everyone in your house must be:

  • A Canadian citizen; or
  • A permanent resident, or someone applying for permanent resident status; or
  • A refugee, or someone applying to be a refugee; and
  • Someone who hasn’t owned a place for six or more months (depending on where you live) before your move-in date

How can I apply?

  1. Find out where your co-ordinated access centre is. These centres will give you the information you need to start choosing possible places that you might want to live in.
  2. Fill out a housing application form. You can get one from your access centre or, if you live in Toronto, you can complete your application online.
  3. Check out the available housing listings at your access centre to choose which areas and apartments you might be interested in. In Toronto, the Housing Listings book is available on the Housing Connections website.

What kinds of places are available?

If you get into subsidized housing you may get your own room, an apartment or a townhouse. The places are run in different ways:

  • Cooperative housing is run by the people who live there. Co-ops get money from the government to have lower rent. Some co-ops are for certain people, like seniors, people with disabilities, or artist.
  • Non-profit housing is lead by community groups or non-profit organizations that can be private or government run.  
  • Local housing companies are run by a local government group that also looks after housing, social welfare and ambulance services.

How long will I have to wait?

The wait ranges from about:

  • 1 to 5 years for a bachelor
  • 7 to 10 years for a one-bedroom
  • 5 to 10 years for a two-bedroom
  • 10 to 12 years for a three- to four-bedroom
  • 4 to 6 years for a five-bedroom home

You need to wait for your name to come up on the waiting list and for a vacancy in the size of unit in buildings you have chosen.

Applicants are selected chronologically on a first-come, first-served basis. However there are Special Priority applicants who are housed on a priority basis.

Who qualifies for Special Priority?

The City of Toronto rules give priority to the following categories:

In addition, individuals who are disadvantaged by a chronological system under the following categories will fill one in seven subsidized housing vacancies:

  • Homeless
  • Separated families
  • Newcomers who are homeless
  • Youth who are 16 or 17 years old at the time of applying

Where do I live in the meantime?

It may take years before you get approved for subsidized housing. Read our articles on affordable housing and shelters to learn about all the other options you have.