Coronavirus: Toronto announces measures to help those who are homeless, in community housing

The City of Toronto has unveiled measures aimed at helping those who are homeless and those who live in affordable housing amid the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

In a statement released on Tuesday, City staff said to date two people in the Toronto shelter system have been diagnosed with COVID-19. Officials said the two cases aren’t connected and both people are recovering in isolation. Municipal staff are currently trying to determine who came into contact with the two people.

Despite the two cases, officials said there is no evidence of an outbreak in Toronto’s shelter system.

The City of Toronto said nine new facilities with a total capacity of 350 spaces have opened to spread people out. A tenth facility is being prepared to be opened. According to the statement, hotel and motel rooms, as well as recreation and community centres that are temporarily closed, are currently being used in some cases.

City staff have also instituted a “rapid housing access” initiative to expedite access to Toronto Community Housing for those in the shelter system. Sixty-five homes have been filled or are in the process of being readied for occupancy.

It was also announced on Tuesday that Toronto Community Housing would be “flexible” with those who pay rent-geared-to-income or market rent if there was a change in employment income. Depending on the resident’s circumstances, rent will be “adjusted or deferred.”

“Housing stability of residents is a top priority,” a statement from the City of Toronto and Mayor John Tory said.

“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.

As of Monday morning, the Ontario government said there were 573 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Seven Ontario residents have died and eight cases have been resolved.

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