Immigration/Permanent Resident Canada | Renting

How To Get Help Paying Rent

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Emergency Rent Financial Assistance Awaits For Those Who Qualify

Almost everything has gone wrong in 2020 and the biggest impact besides the obvious is the financial struggles for Canadians.

Imagine you get a rent reminder text and suddenly you realize that you aren’t able to pay your rent in full.

What are you going to do?

As a renter, it’s important to know all of your options before any type of hardship arises so you’re prepared to target them all.

Today I’m focusing on  Ontario and some parts of Canada about ways people can find help paying rent.

By doing so it can help a renter to avoid eviction while trying to solve their immediate financial situation.

If you don’t pay your rent on time you may face an eviction notice or a letter from your landlord to pay up or move out.

With so many people being laid off, losing their jobs, or having to take reduced work hours money is tight for lots of people.

As of September 27, 2020, the Ontario government has made changes to the Employment Insurance program to better support Canadians through Covid-19.

If you’ve stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. For more information and to apply, go to Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

For some, emergency circumstances may have wiped their savings dry or they may have had to dip into their monthly income.

Any time we have to take away from our net income something that we haven’t budgeted for another area is going to suffer.

This is why it’s so important to have an emergency savings fund however when help is needed quickly you need to know available resources.

Talk to your landlord

for rent

If you are struggling to pay rent the first line of action would be to talk to your landlord.

Just as you may be struggling to pay rent your landlord may have a mortgage to pay that must be paid to the bank.

This is ultimately the person who is either going to work with you or want you to move out if you can’t pay your rent.

Approach the situation with ease and show your landlord what ways you are working on getting help paying rent.

By telling the landlord the situation and steps you are taking to make things right encourages them to believe in you.

Also, see if there are any ways you can help to make the property better or to earn some money to pay the rent you owe.

Perhaps when you explain your financial situation to your landlord he/she may have other ideas to get help paying rent.

For example, if you are struggling for work your landlord might know someone who is hiring or needs employees.

When we were renting part of our cheap rental costs since I had no job and was new to Canada was home maintenance guy.

I took out the trash, shoveled the driveway, renovated a bathroom, mowed the lawn, and anything else that needed to be done.

In the process, I was going to school and working full-time on the weekends so we didn’t have to touch our savings.

The savings we did have were to be used to buy our first house and we didn’t want to jeopardize that opportunity.

This is why we went looking for other ways to lower our rent, earn extra money, and save money wherever we could.

Get A Roommate

If you live in subsidized housing or geared to income housing in Ontario you should talk to your caseworker before getting a roommate.

The reason for this is if you have to report your monthly income to ODSP that would include any roommate income.

This extra income may affect your eligibility for low-income housing support in your community. It may not.

If you can find a roommate to fill an empty room that certainly can help increase your income each month.

Just remember that you need to give your roommate rent receipts and claim the rental income on your income tax.

Alternatively, you might have to move in with someone else until you can get back up on your feet again.

This might even mean moving back home with your parents or perhaps friends or siblings.

Community Organizations and Churches

Some communities also offer programs such as rent banks where they offer you money to pay your rent interest-free.

Wherever you live in Ontario find out what community organizations are in your area and reach out to them.

If in doubt you can always contact local church organizations who may be able to direct you or the local housing authority.

A phone call to city hall may also yield success in locating community programs that may help paying rent when you are stuck.

Ontario Disability Support Program

The Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) is for people who have a disability and are unable to work in the community.

There is also an ODSP income support program that assists people and families to pay for rent.

ODSP offers:

  • financial assistance to help you and your family with essential living expenses
  • benefits, for you and your family, including prescription drugs and vision care
  • help to find and keeping a job, and advancing your career

Below is a chart that states the number of people the benefit will help and the maximum monthly shelter allowance.

The Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) is a portable housing allowance program for eligible low-income households to help them with their housing costs.

What is Ontario Works?

Ontario Works helps people who are in financial need. It offers two types of assistance:

  • Financial assistance, including:income support to help with the costs of basic needs, like food, clothing and shelter
  • health benefits for clients and their families
Benefit Unit Size

Maximum Monthly
Shelter Allowance











6 or more


If you’re still struggling and need help paying rent after qualifying for Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program you can turn to the following options.

Family Members and Friends

rent help

This is probably my second least favourite route to suggest for those of you who need help paying rent but if you may, then do it.

Some families and friends are willing to help out but you should always never let them ask you for the money back.

Pay them the amount you borrowed on time as you agree before they give you any rent money.

You don’t want to burn bridges with family and friends over money but if you’re fortunate to have the help then take it if you can.

For those of you with friends and family who do lend money to help with paying the rent to expect to never see it again.

I know that sounds harsh but the reality is that when someone is struggling so much it may take forever to pay back a loan if ever.

The Canadian Red Cross

Across Canada, the Canadian Red Cross has support programs put in place to help those in need such as Community Housing Support.

This program provides financial assistance to families or individuals who are living in poverty or at risk of homelessness.

The Red Cross only offers one-time financial assistance based on the urgent needs of the individual or family.

The Salvation Army

Your local Salvation Army is the largest non-governmental provider of social services in Canada and helps individuals and families on all levels.

They provide shelter and help for those in need of secure housing in their community and perhaps with help paying rent and utilities.

You can also access food, clothing, and other support needs through your local Salvation Army services.

A program run by The Salvation Army In Kingston, Ontario for example provides all of the above through the Homelessness Prevention Fund.

The Homelessness Prevention Fund (HPF) provides eligible individuals and families grants (non-repayable) to help them stay housed or secure housing. Funds may be used to prevent eviction or to assist people who are homeless to move to permanent housing. Recipient households are required to have a plan to prevent dependency on the fund.

The Homelessness Prevention Fund replaces funding previously provided under the Low Income Assistance Bank, the Rental Deposit Assistance Program, and the Utility Arrears Program.

Salvation Army Kingston Community & Family Services Branch and Southern Frontenac Community Services Corporation in the County of Frontenac administer this fund and have final approval on all applications.

211 Ontario Program

The 211 Ontario program is a resource helpline and online database for Ontarians who need assistance in their community.

This program is made up of a board of directors who volunteer their time to help people in need.

I had no idea about 211 Ontario when I moved to Canada 12 years ago but wish I had because it’s a wealth of information.

The program was established in 2001 and since 2012 it has been available all over Ontario.

A few examples of what you can find on Ontario 211 in your community by filling out the search bar and location.

There is also a live chat that you can participate in online or you can call with any questions you do find answers for on the website.

  • Rent Banks
  • Emergency Welfare Assistance
  • Utility Assitance Programs

Below I’ve researched two Ontario cities one being Windsor, Ontario, and the other Halton Hills.

I wanted to learn how the community was able to offer help paying rent for those in need of quick assistance to avoid eviction.

As you will notice most community programs are similar but the great thing is that there are assistance programs.

Housing Stability Fund To Get Help Paying Rent


Last month deposit

Halton Region Housing Stability Fund Call Halton Region 905-825-6000 or see a separate listing here

* For those with low income who are unable to pay last month deposit

Help to pay rent

For one-time help, contact Halton Region Housing Stability Fund

Call Halton Region 905-825-6000 or see a separate listing here

Are you at risk of losing your housing?

Are you struggling to pay your housing costs? Afraid of eviction? Halton Region’s Housing Stability program may be able to help you.

This program will assess your eligibility for one-time assistance with basic housing expenses such as:

  • Rental arrears (overdue rent payments)
  • Last month’s rent
  • Utility arrears
  • Moving/storage
  • Furniture

The purpose of this program is to help people maintain their housing.

How to apply

Call 311 to discuss your situation and apply for this program.

Housing Support Services: Housing Expense Assistance

The city of Windsor Ontario also has a program like almost every community across Ontario.

The Windsor, Essex program is called Housing Stability Plan (HSP) for people with low-income and in need due to emergencies or circumstances that were unforeseen, short-term arrears, or facing eviction.

Eligibility for the HSP Program For Help Paying Rent

This is where it can get tricky because for all of these support programs that offer help paying rent you must qualify.

From what I’ve read most of the qualifications are similar but it’s best to call the program for your city.

Let’s have a look at the Windsor eligibility to get help paying rent.

One point that stood out was that you couldn’t be in arrears for more than two months with a late rent payment.

This is a good reason to know what your community offers for financial assistance so you don’t miss an opportunity when needed.

Another good point is whether you are living in an affordable housing arrangement.

If you are renting an apartment for example that is far too expensive for any income that you receive you may need to move or risk not qualifying.

This is always a tough situation since rentals are hard to come by in many Ontario cities and taking the first one offered for peace of mind seems fitting at the time but may hurt you down the road.

  1. A resident of Windsor/Essex County * In receipt of Ontario Works (OW) or Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP), or meet low-income criteria set by the Ministry
  2. Have not received HSP assistance in the past 2 years *
  3. Have housing costs that are affordable and sustainable
  4. Are in rental arrears which do not exceed two (2) months
  5. Are in immediate danger of losing their home due to unpaid rent (eviction)
  6. Have resided at the address for a minimum of one (1) year; and * Have a documented need to relocate (e.g. victim of violence, uninhabitable premises, recently discharged from an institution, health-related).

Bank Loan or Credit Card Options

This may be a slim chance but it’s better than having to live on the streets especially if your stressed financial situation is only temporary.

Based on your debt to income ratio and current employment status your bank may be able to help you out with a bank loan.

Other last resort options may be to pay your rent on a credit card only if you have a plan to pay it back as soon as possible.

You might even want to take advantage of a credit card balance transfer option to avoid unnecessary interest charges.

Keeping large expenses on a credit card coupled with interest rates if you don’t pay the full amount each month is costly.

As much as I hate to suggest it I also hate to see people left out on the streets with or without children.

But before anything of this sort source out other options that might put you in a better financial position.

On the other hand, debt is a big deal, and not paying it back can cause many financial curveballs down the road.

Always make sure to check your credit report annually to see where you stand with your financial health.

Finding Affordable Housing

apartment rental

No matter what your income source is affordable housing is imperative to your overall monthly budget.

If you can’t afford all of your bills with the income you net each month there’s going to be a problem eventually.

Creating a monthly budget to see what you can afford is the ideal first step in figuring out your financial situation.

Always including an emergency savings fund and eliminating extras you don’t need in your budgets such as cable or internet helps.

Ideally, you’ll want to put yourself in a place where you don’t have financial stress month after month.

It may not be an ideal situation without cable or internet but you still have community options such as the library for free internet and movie rentals.

Access All Free Local Resources

Keep an open mind, be optimistic, and plan from start to finish what you’re ideal stress-free financial situation would be.

There are quite a few local resources as I mentioned above but beyond that, you need to look out for yourself.

You can’t keep going on spending money you don’t have or living somewhere that is unaffordable even if it’s the only place available.

A post I wrote about how to optimize your budget to help pay your rent is a great resource to start with on CBB.

I’d also direct you to the 10 Step Mini-Budgeting Series that I created for us when we started our budgeting journey.

Even if you think you are doing all that you can to save money it’s worth having a look to see if you’re missing anything.

We’ve learned quite a bit along the way about our financial health and there were always ways to improve.

Discussion: What ways does your community do to for those people needing help paying rent?

Have you been in this situation and how did it work out for you? I’d love to read your feedback on this topic below.



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