TORONTO – As a part of Toronto’s COVID Recovery plan, having affordable housing is one of the goals. Mayor John Tory states, “As we work to make sure Toronto comes back stronger than ever in the wake of the pandemic, these are the types of policies and initiatives we need to move forward with so that our city continues to grow and prosper and be the vibrant and inclusive city that we all love”.
“I want to thank staff who have made this all possible and for bringing forward these strong recommendations that once implemented will help us create thousands of new affordable homes,” adds Tory. “With approval at committee and City Council, these initiatives will ensure we continue to get more housing built. Along with continuing strong partnerships with the other governments and leading this city to a strong and enduring recovery, addressing the supply of affordable housing will top my priority list as Mayor. This is important action on the housing file that will translate very quickly to more shovels in the ground across the city. And those shovels will build thousands of new places for working young people and working families to call home.”
Mayor John Tory and Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão announced steps that the City of Toronto is taking to advance the creation and retention of affordable rental and ownership housing in Toronto. On Thursday, October 28, the City’s Planning and Housing Committee will consider three reports that will help advance these goals: expansion of the Housing Now initiative; the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) Program and a proposed new Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy.
The Mayor outlined that initial estimates show just these three initiatives together could help create more than 12,000 affordable homes within the next five years – all of which help the City meet the goals of the HousingTO Action Plan.
Inclusionary Zoning (IZ)
City Planning staff have finalized a plan to implement inclusionary zoning in Toronto – the first city in Ontario to implement this tool – which will require that new developments in the city include affordable housing. Beginning in 2022, IZ will secure five per cent to 10 per cent of condominium developments as affordable housing, increasing to eight per cent to 22 per cent by 2030. The amount of affordable housing required would vary depending on the area of the city, taking into consideration housing market analysis and applicable densities. Affordable units would stay affordable for at least 99 years. Rents and ownership prices would be based on proposed new income-based definitions of affordable housing, targeting households with an annual income of between $32,486 and $91,611, which includes individuals such as early childhood educators, dental assistants and bank clerks.
IZ is already used in more than 800 jurisdictions in the U.S., Australia and Canada. This represents a much-needed shift in how the City treats new developments. It will ensure affordable housing is incorporated in new developments on a consistent basis rather than being negotiated on a site-by-site basis.
Housing Now – Phase 3
The Housing Now initiative was approved by City Council in January 2019 to use underutilized, City-owned lands to develop affordable rental housing within transit-oriented, mixed-income, mixed-use, and complete communities.
Committee and Council will consider the recommendation to expand the program to include four additional sites, as part of the third phase of the program:
• 2700 Eglinton Ave. W.
• 40 Bushby Dr.
• 4040 Lawrence Ave. E.
• East Bayfront (also known as Block R6)
These four sites are estimated to provide between 1,150 and 1,400 new homes, including between 450 and 600 affordable rental homes.
East Scarborough Storefront has played an integral role in this community and the City will continue to work closely with this important organization to ensure the future development at 4040 Lawrence Ave. E. has a minimal impact on their operations.
Housing Now is a key component of the City’s HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan and is central to enabling the City to meet its target of creating 40,000 new affordable rental homes, including 18,000 supportive homes, by 2030. Since 2019, 17 sites have been included as part of Phases One and Two of the Housing Now initiative and are currently in various stages of development. Seven sites have progressed through the re-zoning process, and three have development partners selected with construction estimated to begin in 2022.
Through the planning approval process, the original residential targets set for the Housing Now initiative were exceeded, as an estimated 13,479 new homes are being created. This includes 3,037 ownership homes and 10,142 purpose-built rental homes, of which 5,005 will be affordable.
The new affordable rental homes to be created under this program will provide much-needed housing options for households earning between $21,000 and $68,000 per year, and deeper levels of affordability may be achieved for eligible households by adding additional housing benefits.
Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) Program
This program will provide grant funding and Open Door Program incentives, which offer exemptions from property taxes and waive application fees to qualified non-profit and Indigenous housing groups to assist them to purchase and renovate existing market rental properties to ensure they remain permanently affordable rental homes for Toronto residents with low-and-moderate incomes.
The new MURA Program will help:
• Protect existing rental properties and create permanent affordable rental homes
• Improve housing stability for current and future tenants
• Improve the physical conditions of buildings
• Increase capacity in the non-profit and Indigenous housing sectors
• Ensure the long-term financial sustainability of the homes.
• Support the City’s acquisition of at-risk, affordable rental housing that non-profit and Indigenous organizations will operate over the long term.
The MURA Program will be implemented through an annual open call for proposal process to establish a list of qualified and experienced non-profit and Indigenous housing providers. Selected proponents will be given pre-approved available funding, which would provide certainty and allow them to move quickly to secure properties available for purchase. Proponents will have up to one calendar year from the date of approval to submit properties for consideration. To advance the City’s commitments to truth, reconciliation and justice, it is also proposed that 20 per cent of the annual funding allocations under the MURA Program be dedicated to support acquisitions by Indigenous housing organizations for Indigenous peoples.