TORONTO: Mayor John Tory has announced that the City is taking action to help Toronto’s most vulnerable tenants impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
After consulting with Mayor Tory and City staff, who approved both the form of the help and the financial implications for Toronto Community Housing, TCHC confirmed today that it will be flexible and work with market rent and rent-geared-to-income (RGI) tenants whose employment income has been impacted by COVID-19.
For rent-geared-to-income households, which make up about 90 per cent of TCHC tenants, the housing corporation will recalculate their rent based on employment income changes owing to job loss or layoff incurred because of COVID-19. Rent will be adjusted or deferred in order to respond to the economic impact of COVID-19.
For market rent tenants whose income has been reduced as a result of a job loss or layoff because of the COVID-19 response, TCHC will consider various case-specific options to assist them, which may include arranging for payment deferment plans that suit their situation over the next few months.
The City also issued broad direction today to over 200 social and affordable housing providers responsible for over 33,000 units reinforcing that the housing stability of residents is a top priority. Housing providers have been directed to be flexible, exercise discretion, and to work with households whose employment-related income is affected due to the current emergency.
These actions follow the teleconference on Monday with major private residential landlords as part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force. On the call, the Mayor surveyed how landlords plan to help tenants who may have lost their job due to the recent economic turmoil and have rent due soon. Many of the companies pledged to help tenants who need it. A number of companies have detailed policies in place to assist tenants whose income has been diminished by the health crisis, but far too many have not communicated anything to reassure anxious tenants who in the ordinary course have rent payments due on April 1.
While the City has no power to direct landlords, the Mayor strongly urges all property owners to find ways to help tenants who need it to stay in their homes during these unprecedented times. The Mayor also made it clear yesterday that he expects landlords to proactively communicate with their tenants with respect to policies they have in place which are available to tenants financially displaced by COVID-19.
Mayor Tory said:
“These are extraordinary times and we know there are some people who need extraordinary help. The City of Toronto is doing everything it can to help people. That is why Toronto Community Housing is showing leadership and working with tenants who have suddenly lost their jobs to make sure they can stay in their homes. That is why the City has also sent direction to all social housing providers to be flexible and exercise discretion when it comes to households hit hard by this current emergency. I urge all landlords across the city to do what they can to help tenants who suddenly find themselves in very different circumstances due to this pandemic.”
Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão said: “People across our City are facing challenges we could not have imagined even a month ago. That is why we are taking every step necessary to support them, including having the TCHC work with our tenants to ensure their rents are manageable and their homes secure. Our example will also be our request of all social housing providers and private landlords. Supporting each other we will get through this together.”
Deputy Mayor Thompson said: ‘The City’s Shelter, Support & Housing Administration Division is working closely with social and affordable housing providers to make necessary adjustments and accommodations in these rapidly evolving times. We have sent a clear message to housing providers that they have to help people who need it during these difficult times.”
– TCHC President and CEO Kevin Marshman said: “We recognize that many tenants who have lost income or been displaced from their jobs by the COVID-19 emergency are feeling anxious because their rent is due on April 1st. We want to assure them that TCHC will be flexible, given their changed circumstances, and adjust or defer rent payments this month and beyond if necessary. As a City corporation with a responsibility to the people of Toronto, we will apply flexible solutions that balance the ability of tenants to pay with the increased costs we are incurring as a result of COVID-19.”