Accessing affordable housing in Toronto requires effort, patience—and support.

A photo of Ruth, a housing worker at Eva's

Ruth, a Housing Team Lead at Eva’s

Ruth, a Housing Support Lead at Eva’s, helps young people find long-term housing, a process that includes securing documentation they may not have, and negotiating tenant agreements. She also helps high-risk youth who need supportive housing apply for housing and case management support.

“The housing available is very minimal vs. the amount of unhoused people in the community,” she said.

Even when there are resources, it often takes “an ample amount of time.”

“It’s a lot of waiting, and one of the biggest challenges is that you might age out of the youth program that gives you priority, particularly for supportive housing,” she said.

An additional hurdle for youth who are ready to live independently is the soaring cost of rent.

“It’s virtually impossible for a youth who receives Ontario Works or ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) to get a room in the city that’s close to the supports they need. The price of rent either surpasses what they receive or wipes out 99% of it. Even if they have a job, their earnings are deducted. They can’t get ahead,” said Ruth.

She helps youth apply for the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) that offsets the cost of rent for eligible applicants, but that can be a difficult process.

Ruth says it’s sometimes easier to place newcomers in market housing because they come to the country with a blank slate. However, it’s hard for them to find a guarantor to secure their housing. In supportive housing, finding a case manager who understands their culture can also be a challenge.

Despite the many issues, Ruth says many folks are working to help youth navigate housing options. “Many people are doing their best to help a part of society that’s not being seen.”

It takes a whole community to fight anti-Black racism and its effects on youth experiencing homelessness. Break barriers.