In a new, concrete action plan, Toronto’s city council approves a 10-year housing strategy: Toronto HousingTO 2020-2030. In a platform that addresses multiple issues from homelessness to affordable rentals to long-term care, it’s one that the city insists will help over 341,000 households in the city and many more individuals living on the poverty line.
But the biggest coup is the 40,000 new affordable rental homes – something the city has been in desperate need of. These rentals are “including 18,000 new supportive homes approvals for vulnerable residents, some of whom are homeless or at risk of being homeless, and a minimum of 25% (10,000) new affordable rental and supportive homes dedicated to women and girls, including female-led households.”
The extensive 2020-2030 plan lists 76 action items that focus specifically on Toronto’s housing needs, including enhancing measures to prevent evictions and people becoming homeless; preserving the rental homes that currently exist, and adopting a new program definition of affordable rental housing based on income.
It also prevents 10,000 evictions for low-income households, and includes assisting over 10,000 seniors remain in their homes or move to long-term care facilities.
In a vote of 24 to 1, the plan was almost unanimously approved, but you have to wonder which councillor voted against it! Nevertheless, the strategy is considered a successful start – despite the fact that its implementation will cost upwards of $23.4 billion and require investments from all three levels of government.
However, homeowners won’t be happy to hear that Tory plans on increasing property taxes, in part to pay for this new plan. With these increased taxes, Toronto will fund $8.5 billion, with $5.5 billion already committed through operating, capital investments and other financial tools. It also calls on the federal and provincial governments to invest $14.9 billion.
“We know it is critical for the future of our rapidly growing city that people from all income levels have a place to call home,” said Mayor John Tory in a statement.
“I will be working hard with the other orders of government to ensure the entire plan is fully funded. Housing Strategy and calls on the provincial government to commit to increasing income supports and supportive housing options to vulnerable people. This has to be a priority – we have to come together to support households who are struggling to pay the rent and keep, or put, a roof over their heads.”
Bob Rose, a Toronto housing advocate, said the complex plan is a step in the right direction, but cautioned, “It’s going to require a very determined council…in terms of producing what is being promised.”
Let’s hope that council follows through on the plans. For many – it is a matter of life or death.