Toronto committee endorses plan to build nearly 6,000 housing units | CBC News (2024)

Toronto

Toronto's housing committee has endorsed a plan to build almost 6,000 new rental units across the city at a cost of over $350 million, in a bid to get almost 20 projects "unstuck" from the development pipeline.

18 affordable housing projects will be ‘unstuck’ from development pipeline: report

Toronto committee endorses plan to build nearly 6,000 housing units | CBC News (1)

Vanessa Balintec · CBC News

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Toronto committee endorses plan to build nearly 6,000 housing units | CBC News (2)

Toronto's housing committee has endorsed a plan Thursday to build almost 6,000 new rental units across the city at a cost of over $350 million, in a bid to get projects "unstuck" from the development pipeline.

With the Rental Housing Supply Program, the city will provide up to $260,000 per unit to builders to help accelerate the development of 18 affordable housing rental and rent-geared-to-income projects, according to a staff report. The cash would help cover the cost of high interest rates and inflation that have stalled the projects in the first place.

Parkdale-High Park Coun. Gord Perks, who's the chair of the planning and housing committee, said if this is approved by council,the plan will allow them to start construction of these projects within the next 18 months.

"This is us turning a corner," Perks told CBC Toronto.

"For the first time in, call it 40 years, we're building the right housing for people who are struggling to get homes in the city of Toronto."

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The plan was celebrated overall by non-profit housing providers who spoke at the meeting, as well as other related organizations, such asThe Learning Enrichment Foundation. The community services agency says it wants to buildaffordablehousing units andcommunity space in Mount Dennis but can't currently proceed financially.

"The Rental Housing Supply Program makes it possibleand … will also, across the city, make other non-housing, non-profit organizations able to contribute," said Peter Frampton,the executive director of the foundation.

Toronto committee endorses plan to build nearly 6,000 housing units | CBC News (3)

The programwould set specific definitions for affordable rents, which will range from a studio apartment at $1,088 toa one-bedroom unit at $1,378,a two-bedroom at $1,992anda three-bedroom at $2,190.

The financial incentives provided under the deal are open to public and private sector builders, but the city is hoping to grow capacity within non-profits, co-ops and Indigenous led-developers with this program.

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The public won't be able to see what projects will be eligible for the program until after the bidding process, when builders have been awarded the contract, Perks said— something housing advocate Mark Richardson took issue with.

"If there's specific terms and conditions, that's fine," Richardson, the technical lead of HousingNowTO,told the committee."Who ...and what your targets are should not be deemed as sensitive information because then you're just opening yourself up to bad actors."

WATCH | How this plancould lead to thousands of affordable housing units:

Toronto committee endorses plan to build nearly 6,000 housing units | CBC News (4)

New plan to build 6,000 rental units fast goes to Toronto housing committee

26 days ago

Duration 6:22

City staff recommendations include spending more than $350 million to speed up construction of 18 projects. Officials say that could lead to thousands of affordable housing units currently in the development pipeline being built this year or next.

In order for units to be eligible for the financial incentives under this program, they must be rent-controlled for a minimum of 40 years.

The program is part of a broader plan approved by city council last fall to build 65,000 new rent-controlled homes by 2030. The total includes 6,500 rent-geared-to income, 41,000 affordable rental and 17,500 rent-controlled market homes.

Don't forget market housing, advocate andcouncillor say

When it comes to building affordable housing, Coun. Brad Bradfordcalled the committee's approval of the move a "good step" for affordable housing, but said more needs to be done to increase supply on the market side, too.

"If we cannot find a way to unlock more supply, the bulk of the affordable housing is delivered through subsidization from the market," he told CBC Toronto.

"We need to do things and take steps and measures as local government to make sure we're addressing the supply sideand helping those market projects move forward."

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David Wilkes, the president and CEOof the Building Industry and Land Development Association, agreed. Headvocatedfor a plan to help unlock thousands of market housing units that have also been stuck in the development phase.

In his deputation to the committee, Wilkesreferenced market estimates the association retained fromUrbanationto research. The firm projectedarental supply deficit in Toronto of 84,000 units in the next 10 years.

"The linkage between those affordable units and the market [ones]is a very symbiotic one," he said. "They are dependent on each other to be delivered."

Toronto Mayor Olivia Chow said that at a time when interest rates and borrowing costsare high and the private sector is slowing down, the city wants to speed up"because we do have financing capability."

"We are noticing fewer people actually constructing," she told CBC Radio's Metro MorningThursday. "We have given their approval and the permits to do so, but they're not doing it, which is why the city is stepping in as a public developer."

City council will have ultimate approval over the planlater this month.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Toronto committee endorses plan to build nearly 6,000 housing units | CBC News (5)

Vanessa Balintec

Reporter

Vanessa Balintec is a reporter for CBC Toronto. She likes writing stories about labour, equity, accessibility and community. She previously worked for CBC News in New Brunswick and Kitchener-Waterloo. She has a keen interest in covering the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. You can reach her at vanessa.balintec@cbc.ca.

    With files Shawn Jeffords

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