How the Waitlist Works

A message to tenants, landlords and homeowners

During these challenging times, it may become more difficult to make rent or mortgage payments. It is important we work together. This information outlines some of the changes, options and supports available to you.


  • If you cannot pay your rent because of layoffs or mandatory self-isolation caused by COVID-19, we strongly encourage you to speak with your landlord and work out a payment plan. Your landlord will expect some documentation of your inability to pay. If you are unable to pay part of your rent, you and your landlord can talk about establishing a formal agreement to do so when your income situation changes.
  • A reminder that rent strikes are illegal. We ask everyone to work together during this time of crisis.
  • Landlords will also expect tenants to take part in any programs offered by other levels of government. 
  • The Ontario government has suspended all new evictions during the COVID-19 crisis, unless due to illegal activity of safety concerns. Housing Tribunals Ontario is postponing all in-person hearings.
  • There are many types of financial support available to help individuals and families experiencing challenges due to COVID-19.


  • Landlords should discuss individual situations with your tenants and be flexible in making specific arrangements for payment of rent. You can encourage your tenants to seek support through all available government programs, provided in the links above.
  • The provincial government has suspended all eviction enforcement.
  • Landlords should not proceed with any eviction orders currently in progress.

COVID-19 Specific Supports:

The centralized waiting list is a modified-chronological housing wait list of all applicants eligible for rent-geared-to-income or RGI assistance in Hamilton. The list is maintained in compliance with the Housing Services Act, 2011 and approved local rules and standards.

Access to Housing or ATH will process all completed applications for subsided housing. If you are eligible, ATH will add you to the centralized waiting list. This waiting list is based on the date that you apply for housing. This means your name will be added to the waiting list for all the locations you noted on the Building Selection Form. 

You will be offered housing when you are #1 on the waitlist through the Housing Provider that you selected. The staff at ATH cannot predict or guess when you will be housed. It will depend on the status your file was given, the date you applied for housing, and your housing selections.

A Non-Profit Landlord will contact you with an offer of accommodation. You will receive a maximum of three offers. If you refuse three offers of accommodation your application will be cancelled and you will have to reapply and start again at the beginning. You have the right to request a review of any cancelled application through the Social Housing Review Panel

Please call ATH to report any changes of address, telephone number or who will be living with you. It is important that you keep your application up to date and that you respond quickly to ATH’s requests for additional information. There is a time limit for responding.

If you want to make changes to your selection of housing choices, you must come to the ATH office to do so.

Please do not call ATH to ask when you will be offered housing. Non-Profit Landlords select applicants from the waiting list by date of application on a first come, first served basis. The only way you will move up on the waitlist is when applicants ahead of you on the list are offered housing. 

Keep your place on the waiting list

Stay connected
If your contact information changes, tell us right away. We will make your file inactive if we cannot contact you. You cannot be offered housing if your file is inactive.

Keep your application up to date
The government regulations for social housing make it your responsibility to keep your application up to date. If you do not tell us about changes in your information, you could lose your place on the waiting list. Access to Housing will also review your eligibility once a year.

Stay eligible
Every member of your household must continue to meet the five conditions listed under “Who can apply for subsidized housing?

Review your needs regularly
Review your housing needs regularly and tell us right away if your needs or preferences change. You get three housing offers. However, you have the choice of turning down two offers if you are not happy with the unit or location but if you turn down the third offer, your file will be cancelled. You will be removed from the waitlist and would be required to fill out another application with a new start date.