This past week we successfully fought the denial of a Housing Stabilization Fund (HSF) application that replicated past patterns of arbitrary decision making. The applicant contacted us after having their requests for last month’s rent, moving expenses and furniture denied. The decision letter cited the applicant being “currently housed” as the reason for denial. It is absurd for a fund designed to “prevent homelessness” to deny emergency housing assistance to people on the basis that they aren’t yet homeless. It is also against the HSF’s administration policies which identify three criteria for the fund, two of which rely on the applicant being housed. In this case the applicant was seeking assistance to move to an apartment with lower rent.
Following OCAP’s intervention, the decision was reversed and the applicant was provided the full amount they were entitled to. But the case brings up concerns about the ongoing arbitrary decision making by Toronto Employment and Social Services.
In 2016 and 2017, we uncovered and exposed a series of problems in the administration of the fund through our report and subsequent actions. The fight resulted in substantial changes to the benefit (you can read our analysis of the changes here), one significant one being that after years of secrecy, the fund’s administrator – the Toronto Employment and Social Services (TESS), was forced to release the HSF administration policy publicly. This greatly increased people’s ability to challenge unjust denials.
In summary, if your application for HSF is denied:
1. Check the HSF policy online to determine what you are entitled to.
2. Contact your local community legal clinic, or
3. Get in touch with us.