Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) 

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Updated June 22, 2023

What is the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit?

This benefit is not available to the general public.

A monthly housing allowance paid directly to eligible households to help with housing costs.  The amount varies and is based on the household’s net income based on tax information and local market rent. 

The benefit is portable, which means you’ll still receive the benefit while living at any rental address in Ontario, including where you live now, wherever you might move to.

The program serves as an alternative to waiting on the long (and growing) waitlists for a rent-geared-to-income (RGI) community housing placement.

Similar portable housing benefit programs have been implemented in other countries, including: Australia, France, Germany, UK, US.

The program launched on April 1, 2020 under the 2017 National Housing Strategy’s Bilateral Agreement between the province and federal government. The funding is shared between federal/provincial and the program is delivered by the province.

The COHB program started in 2020-21 and ends on March 31, 2029. The Province and federal government must each cost-match $732 million for a total spending commitment of $1.5 billion.

Source: FAO


To be eligible to receive the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit, you must:

  • Reside permanently in Ontario, and
  • Be on, or eligible to be on, the social housing waiting list of a Service Manager

To receive the COHB, you must agree to be removed from the Centralized Waiting List as required by Provincial program guidelines.

It is targeted to eligible households including persons experiencing or at risk of homelessness, Indigenous persons, seniors, and people with disabilities, as well as households living in community housing.


Priority will be given to the following groups:

  • Survivors of domestic violence and human trafficking
  • Persons experiencing homelessness
  • Indigenous persons
  • Persons with disabilities requiring modified units
  • Seniors
  • Households on the Centralized Waiting List with the oldest application dates

Survivors of Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking who had been receiving Ontario’s Portable Housing Benefit – Special Priority Policy (PHB-SPP) program were automatically transitioned to receiving assistance under the COHB in April 2020.

How it works

  1. The Service Manager (SM) will identify and select eligible households and assist with application submissions to the Ministry of Finance (MOF)
  2. MOF approves eligibility and issues monthly payments directly to the household
  3. SMs may claim administration payments of $250 per approved household (up to a maximum of 5% of the annual planning allocation) for program administration from the program’s funding.

Portable Housing Benefit (PHB) calculation

The Portable Housing Benefit (PHB) is calculated by subtracting 30% of Adjusted Family Net Income (AFNI) for the household from 80% of the Average Market Rent (AMR) for the area:

AFNI is the annual net income of all members of a family unit or benefit unit – excluding full-time students. It also excludes net Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP) payments and net monthly OW or ODSP payments. It is generally based on net income (line 23600 on your CRA Notice of Assessment) if it reasonably reflects your net income or approximated net income.

AMR is the average rent in your area as determined and reported by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

The benefit is not based on the amount of rent that you currently pay as that is not part of the formula. You will receive the same amount even if you move to a place with lower rent.

However, if you are receiving OW or ODSP, the sum of the amount of your Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit and your shelter allowance from Ontario Works or ODSP cannot be more than you pay for rent and utilities. The COHB will be reduced to adjust for this.

Maximum COHB = Actual Shelter Costs (incl. rent & utilities) – Shelter Allowance

Households may also receive first and last month’s rent assistance as required.

For example, if your net income is $18,000 ($1,500 per month) and the average rent in your community for a 2 bedroom is $1216 (as is the case in Belleville, ON), then:

  • 80% of the average rent $1216 is $972.80
  • 30% of your $1,500 monthly net income is $450
  • Subtract the $450 from $972.80 and you get a COHB benefit of $522.80 per month

The amount of your benefit will be reviewed every year, as well as when you move and if your Ontario Works or ODSP ends.

How to see if you are eligible

2023 Canada Housing Benefit top-up (closed)

The last day to apply for the one-time top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit was March 31, 2023.

It was a one-time, tax-free $500 payment to low income renters.

While it shares a similar name, the benefit was administered separately from the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit (COHB) discussed above and was applied to separately.

About the author

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Alex Wideman
Alex Wideman is a consumer rights advocate, serial entrepreneur and the editor-in-chief of Cansumer. He has a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Queen's University. He is passionate about helping others save time and money and has been creating consumer-focused online resources for over 10 years. More about Cansumer Read more

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