I moved to Toronto 22 yrs ago to find work in my field as a Medical Laboratory Technologist and found a community in the Co-op on Oak st. I was able to find work at Canadian Blood Services, just 11 stops from my home. While I was working we could afford the housing charge for the 2 bedroom, bi-level apartment. Unfortunately I became ill in 2014 and was put on sick leave from my job. One month later, my daughter Carrie had 2 grand seizures that caused minor brain damage. Two years later in 2016 I was declared totally disabled and unable to return to the job I loved. I lost my long term disability insurance from work and therefore 75% of my monthly income. Carrie is receiving ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program) and now I am also.
Our combined shelter allowance is insufficient to cover the Rents on a 3 bedroom apartment in Downtown Toronto or anywhere in the GTA. For a single person on ODSP the shelter allowance is on 497.00/month and for Carrie the shelter allowance is $781.00. This is less than half the amount we would need to be able to afford a modest 3 bedroom apartment or house. We could not afford to move and so we were stuck with inadequate housing.
Then we got the chance to put our names in for a housing lottery taking place through TCHC and we "won" a spot in a brand new High Rise on River Street, a building that we watched constructed. The lottery was for the “Affordable Rent Units”. Our 3 bedroom apartment is renting for 1331.00/month. Combined we receive $1278.00 therefore the extra we pay in rent comes out of our living allowances.
Our conclusion as a family was we had to move, if anything happened to my mom my daughter and I would be asked to leave! Also we did not have enough bedrooms and my child and I were out growing ‘co-sleeping’. We tried for about 2 years to make adequate sleeping arrangements, all of which was not working for our family. I had 2 grand seizures in 2014, during which time my mother was an absolute blessing for my daughter and I. I suffered a brain injury that left me with permanent minor brain damage. Without my mom, I had no support for my daughter and I. During that time my mother also became ill and was put on sick leave from her job. After my membership was denied , my community support worker from FREDVICTOR told us about a housing lotto.At first I could not bring myself to apply and was very hesitant as I could not handle another disappointment. My mother and I had realized it would be almost impossible to live separately as we need each other for many things, including Cost of living, affordable rent vs our income. I couldn’t imagine not living with my mom. Also we could not find a place to move the 3 of us that we could afford.
Finally we decided it couldn’t hurt to put our name in for the lotto of the 75 available Affordable units in a brand new TCHC building at 110 River St. A miracle happened...Our Family had been chosen! We were offered a Brand New 3 bedroom unit! It honestly took me days to accept this was ‘real’ Our old home was no longer accessible to my mom, and we only had 2 bedrooms and absolutely needed 3. Thankfully we met the requirements to move in. We didn’t move far, I am comfortable being in my own neighbourhood. Due to my brain injury change is difficult, I was sad to leave my neighbours. However extremely excited to enjoy a home that was for our whole family.
This whole experience has been amazing. We are fully moved and settled into our new home. It’s beautiful! My family is at peace knowing we are safely housed and still together. I am so thankful that we had this opportunity. Thank you for this opportunity to share my story. In the last 2-3 years many many of my loved ones and friends have had unnecessary issues with housing security. Being homeless in Toronto is I believe one of the hardest situations to pull oneself out of , there has been so many cuts to social funding it’s almost impossible to be housed in a timely fashion. Being homeless puts one at risk for higher mental health issues, higher medical issues, strain on certain systems when the obvious solution is to help people get housed, not cut the funding that WAS available to help get one set up. I’m curious the cost of being homeless vs the cost of actually helping someone better their lives. Not only financially, humanely as well. It could be you, within 2 months of financial difficulty.
Please treat our homeless with the respect you’d treat any other human being. I would like to tell Premier Ford to have a look at ODSP and to increase the shelter allowances to something closer to the actual cost of housing in Toronto Centre. Housing insecurity is a huge issue in Toronto Centre for the “working poor” as well as those of us on ODSP and OW (Ontario Works).