Portable Housing Benefit

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What is a Portable Housing Benefit?

A Portable Housing Benefit (PHB) is a monthly subsidy provided to a low-income household to assist with housing costs. Unlike other forms of housing assistance, the benefit is tied to the household and not a physical housing unit, allowing the benefit to move with the household to any rental unit within the City of Kingston (the City) or County of Frontenac (the County). As a result, recipients will have more flexibility to choose where they live to be closer to family, social support networks, schools and employment opportunities.

Who is eligible?

Households must meet the following criteria to be eligible to begin receiving a PHB:

  • Reside in the City or the County
  • Be on the City’s centralized waiting list (CWL) for rent-geared-to-income (RGI) housing
  • Not be in receipt of, or part of a household in receipt of RGI assistance or any other government-funded housing benefit (excluding social assistance shelter allowance)
  • Consent to being removed from the CWL once an offer of PHB has been accepted

How is a PHB offered?

Households are selected in the same manner they are for traditional RGI units. A waitlist will be maintained for PHBs. When there is an available benefit because a household leaves the program or more program funding becomes available, a new household will be selected from the PHB waitlist by the same rules that RGI units are offered.

How does the PHB calculation work?

The benefit is calculated using a formula that is generally consistent with Schedule 4.1 of Ontario Regulation 367/11 under the Housing Services Act, 2011 (HSA). The formula includes average market rent (AMR) and adjusted family net income (AFNI).

Monthly Portable Housing Benefit = (Average Market Rent x 80%) - [ (Adjusted Family Net Income x 30%) / 12 ]

Interaction with Social Assistance:

Monthly Portable Housing Benefit = (Average Market Rent x 80%) - [ (Adjusted Family Net Income x 30%) / 12 ] ,


Monthly Portable Housing Benefit = Actual Market Rent - Maximum Shelter Allowance

Note: The lesser of the two calculations will be used.

What is Average Market Rent?

The amount of a PHB is based on the difference between 80 per cent of the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) Average Market Rent (AMR) for an appropriately sized rental unit, based on household composition, and 30 per cent of annual household AFNI divided by 12. AMR is defined as the average expense of market rent in the City and the County, as provided by CMHC to the City based on CMHC’s annual rental survey. AMR is a standard measure used in other housing programs and the City updates AMR information annually.

The program only uses AMRs for unit sizes of bachelor, one bedroom, two bedrooms, three bedrooms and four bedrooms. Recipients will receive a monthly benefit based on a calculation using a unit size no smaller than a bachelor and no larger than four bedrooms. Households requiring more than four bedrooms will receive a benefit based on a calculation using AMR for four bedrooms.

The current AMRs for Kingston are:

  • Bachelor: $814
  • 1 Bedroom: $1,101
  • 2 Bedroom: $1,289
  • 3 Bedroom: $1,646
  • 4 Bedroom or larger: $1,998

Do households have to file their income tax to get a PHB?

Yes.  Households must file their income tax return by July 1 of each year to continue to be eligible for the benefit.

Do households have to move once in receipt of a PHB?

Households do not normally have to move to receive a PHB. Households can use it to pay rent where they are currently living as long as they reside in the City or the County.

If a household does not live in the City or the County, they can apply for a PHB but will need to move to the City or the County to start receiving it.  Once a PHB offer has been accepted, households have 90 days to secure a rental unit.

If a household lives in an RGI unit, they will need to move out of the RGI unit before they can start receiving a PHB. Households will have 90 days to move out of the RGI unit.

For more information on the City’s PHB program, please email your questions to theregistry@cityofkingston.ca.

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