Ontario Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Kathleen Wynne is using her power under provincial legislation to reject plans for a quick sell-off of some Toronto Community Housing Corporation single family homes that are currently vacant, according to a news report in The Globe and Mail. In her letter to Toronto Mayor Ford on 30 May 2012, which is also published in the Globe, Minister Wynne writes that “the proposed sale of the 65 TCHC properties requires careful consideration.” She says that the her final decision on whether to allow the sale will be made after a special City of Toronto working group under the direction of Councillor Ana Bailao reports to Toronto City Council in September.
The Wellesley Institute wrote to Minister Wynne in mid-April setting out key policy reasons – including equity and financial issues – why the immediate sell-off of the vacant homes should be deferred until the TCHC working group has time to finish its work. The proposed sell-off of almost 700 TCHC buildings (the 65 vacant properties plus more than 700 other occupied single family homes) is bad for the health of Toronto, according to research and policy work produced by the Wellesley Institute. We urged City Council to create the special commission to chart a more financially and socially sustainable future for TCHC, and the Wellesley Institute is preparing research and policy papers to support the work of the Bailao working group.
Mayor Rob Ford has written a letter to Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty complaining about Minister Wynne’s decision to defer approval of the sell-off of TCHC vacant units, which was also published the in Globe. The mayor says the money from the sale of the vacant units is urgently required to pay the growing repair bill for the entire TCHC portfolio – which has been growing steadily since the former Ontario public housing stock was downloaded to the City of Toronto a decade ago without adequate capital reserves.
The Mayor doesn’t mention in his letter that the wait list for affordable housing in Toronto, including TCHC homes, has set a new record every month since the fall of 2008, and is currently at 83,761 households – up 7 percent in the last year alone. Selling off TCHC single family homes will make a long wait even longer for the record number of households seeking a place to call home in Toronto.