Skip to main content

Toronto homeowner Sohail Mansoor began renting his basement apartment to healthcare workers who needed to self-isolate from their families in early April 2020.Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

The organizer: Sohail Mansoor

The project: Helping expand Health Worker Housing

The reason: To provide short-term accommodation for health care workers

Sohail Mansoor was watching a news conference on television a few weeks ago when the discussion turned to the problems health care workers were having finding a place to self-isolate.

Mr. Mansoor has a basement suite in his home in Toronto and he immediately went on Facebook and offered it to any health care worker on a pay-what-you-can basis. His post was shared dozens of times, which led him to a website started by a group in Victoria, called, which offered similar housing. Mr. Mansoor got in touch with the organizers and within a couple of days he had launched Health Worker Housing in Toronto and helped it expand further. The all-volunteer group now operates in nine Canadian cities and it’s expanding into the United States.

The site matches health care workers looking for short-term accommodation with property owners. While both sides set the terms of the rental, the organizers have recommended charging $500 a month. Many owners have been charging far less and there’s no fee for the website’s service.

Mr. Mansoor, who is a real estate agent, said Health Worker Housing has helped 15 people find accommodation but there are still 120 people registered on the site seeking a place to live. Nearly 50 property owners have listed suites and the group is in talks with a company that has 20 furnished units that could soon become available.

“From the outset I said I don’t know how successful this will be, but it’s worth a shot,” he said. “If we even help just one or two people it’s worth it in my books.”

He’s also been amazed at how many volunteers from across the country have joined in to help. “It has been incredibly rewarding to see it come together,” he said. “I’ve been in real estate for 16 years. It’s nice to be able to do it in a way that really makes a difference.”