Toronto’s Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) Replaces Community Start up & Maintenance Benefit

As of January 1, 2013, the provincial government ended the CSUMB (Community
Start Up and Maintenance Benefit). While the benefits provided through HSF are
not contained in law (and hence not enforceable / appealable the way CSUMB was),
Toronto’s benefits are comparable in other ways. Some of the old criteria to qualify
still apply. That is, you must provide proof of your need up to the maximum allowed
and demonstrate financial sustainability (eg. if rental arrears are paid off, can you afford
the monthly rent). But the previous requirement that someone must not have received
CSUMB in the last 24 months has been dropped. In the case of ODSP recipients, total
income and assets will also be taken into account when assessing eligibility.

Toronto’s HSF is available to those on OW and ODSP to assist with:
• housing start up costs (first and last month’s rent);
• rental arrears to maintain affordable housing;
• a benefit for furniture / household furnishings;
• assistance with utilities arrears or start up;
• assistance to those who are transitioning from homelessness or a long term
residence or prison.
The maximum allocations for arrears, last month’s rent, furnishings are as follows:
• $800 for singles / couples;
• $1,000 for families with adult dependants;
• $1,500 for families with children.

There is some room for discretion to be exercised by workers based on ‘hardship’.
Someone on ODSP must be referred by their ODSP worker to OW for assistance from
the HSF, while a person on OW simply needs to raise the issue with their worker.
While a negative decision can’t be appealed to the Social Benefits Tribunal, if someone
disagrees with a negative decision, it can be reviewed by the supervisor. A negative
decision by the supervisor will be reviewed by the local office manager, but the decision
of the manager is final.

Excerpt from article by
Melodie Mayson
Co-Director
Neighbourhood Legal Services

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