As the City of Toronto attempts to find housing for hundreds of refugees, it is appealing to local landlords for help.
The City is asking homeowners to offer their vacant rental units to refugee claimants and asylum seekers through the DonateTO Portal. Refugees will receive rental support from the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB), which recently received a $6.67M top-up from the provincial government.
For its part, Toronto, as directed by City Council, has made 150 shelter beds temporarily available within two hotels and a City-operated emergency shelter, and will add another 100 temporary beds in the coming weeks.
For weeks, more than 200 refugee claimants and asylum seekers from African countries were left sleeping outside the Streets to Homes housing services centre at Richmond and Peter Streets due to a lack of space in the shelter system.
City officials, including Mayor Olivia Chow, who called the situation a "crisis," blamed a lack of adequate funding from the federal government, which is responsible for refugees and asylum seekers.
Following an emergency meeting between all three levels of government, the federal officials provided a one-time injection of approximately $212M into the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP), roughly $97M of which will be allocated to the City of Toronto to provide shelter to asylum seekers.
However, Toronto said the funding, while welcome, falls "significantly short of what is required," noting that it needs $157M "and growing."
"The strain on the system is increasing and some of our current programs are simply not sustainable without the appropriate levels of support," a release from the City reads.