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Feds pledge $1.3B for Toronto community housing repairs

Toronto Community Housing (TCH) has been chronically underfunded and in need of a serious boost for repairs and new buildings. Toronto City Council has historically been hesitant to fund repairs, which means buildings to fall into such a state of disrepair that it forces their demolition, or in former Mayor Ford’s case, their sale on the open market. Last week, the federal government announced that it will be providing $810 million in loans and $530 million in contributions to help the City address the backlog of repairs.

The investment is a part of the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, which the federal government announced in May 2018. The nation-wide fund has $13.2 billion earmarked for building 60,000 new homes and repairing 240,000 existing units. In Toronto, the $1.3 billion will be used to renovate about 58,000 TCH units across 1,500 buildings in the city.

The funding will complement $313 million TCH had set aside for repairs this year, and while we wish this announcement included funding for new units, these repairs will ensure that units that are so dilapidated, they’re unlivable will be fixed up and put back into the rental pool.

The cost of housing in Toronto has been skyrocketing over the past 5 years. For the City’s most vulnerable and low-income populations, this has taken the situation from difficult to dire.

In 2018, there were more people on the waitlist than the TCH currently houses: nearly 181,000 people in 61,000 households. Currently, TCH is home to about 110,000 residents.

TCH offers subsidized housing (aka rent-geared-to-income), affordable rent units, and market rent units. About 93% of TCH tenants pay a subsidized rent, which costs of about 30% of their gross income.

Housing our most vulnerable neighbours

The discussion on whether to fund social housing has been ongoing since the late 90s under Mel Lastman, so you’ll be forgiven if you’re feeling a bit cynical. The economy has shifted a lot since Mel built a subway for his friends. It’s particularly galling to see our councillors squabbling over the cost of ensuring that social housing buildings don’t rain bricks on unsuspecting pedestrians.

Affordable housing is a city-wide problem and we won’t fix it by ignoring the problem, which is why we’ve teamed up with both Habitat for Humanity and Options For Homes, who are both working to create solutions for urban living. 

We recently sold a number of condo units with down payment assistance of $135k targeted at renters looking to buy, though this won’t directly benefit our neighbours in community housing, but helping current renters become home owners opens up rental units for others struggling to find a suitable home.

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