Toronto City Council’s Executive Committee will be asked on Tuesday to approve a three-year plan that will see most of the $108 million that the city will receive from the federal and provincial governments over the next three years allocated to housing allowances to help low and moderate-income households pay the high cost of rents in Toronto. Under the federal-provincial housing program that expires in 2014, the city expects to receive $44.5 million in fiscal 2012 and the same amount in fiscal 2013, and $19.3 million in the final year.
Access to affordable housing is one of the most important determinants of health. The Wellesley Institute’s Precarious Housing in Canada outlines recent research that links housing and health. The “toxic trio” of housing, inequality and poor health are joined in a vicious circle, as noted by research from the Wellesley Institute and others.
The Wellesley Institute has warned that gutting Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office undermines the ability of Toronto to deliver on its effective ‘housing-first’ approach to ending homelessness. Toronto’s affordable housing wait list hit another new record in December at 82,138 households, and vacancy rates in the city’s private rented sector plunged last year. Both underline the urgent need for new affordable housing supply in Toronto.
Of the $108.3 million in total, the city can use up to $5.4 million to help Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office deliver the funding programs and work with landlords and housing providers.
As part of its 2012 budget, Toronto City Council considered a plan that would rapidly reduce the funding for new affordable housing – dropping from 1,502 new homes in 2011 to less than 300 homes in 2014.
The proposal at Executive Committee would see the $103 million federal / provincial housing investment (after the city’s $5.4 million share is deducted) spent on:
- Housing allowances – $60 million (59%)
- Housing repairs – $20 million (19%)
- New affordable rental housing – $16.4 million (16%)
- Affordable home ownership – $6.6 million (6%)