Toronto’s affordable housing waiting list sky-rocketed to an all-time high of 76,549 households by the end of December of 2010. Despite the growing need, the city’s 2010 municipal operating budget tightens the fiscal screws on local housing and homelessness programs. A first glance at the municipal budget, released this morning, sets out a plan to cut overall spending in the city’s Shelter, Support and Housing (SHS) division by almost $9 million to a total of $916.8 million in 2011.
Two-thirds of SHS revenues come from federal and provincial government - and these are down sharply this year as both levels of government continue to “step out” of their long-term affordable housing obligations. The cut in funding from senior levels of government requires SHS to take money from reserves and also take some money intended for shelters and use it to cover the city’s administration costs.
Overall, the city is proposing a 2.4% cut in homeless shelter beds – with the biggest cuts coming at the Family Residence. The city is also proposing a $100,000 cut in its Tenant Defence Fund, which provides eviction prevention support (more than 30,000 households face eviction annually in Toronto). Federal and provincial funding is expected to drop even more sharply in the next few years, but the city’s housing reserves have been exhausted, so the pressure for bigger cuts will grow next year.
The city, using a combination of municipal, provincial and federal dollars, funded 1,019 new affordable and renovated homes in 2009; and 1,132 homes in 2010. The 2011 budget calls for a total of 1,783 new homes to be funded – although some of them are multi-year projects and may not be available for occupancy in 2011.
Total contribution’s from the city’s Capital Revolving Reserve Fund is set at $29.8 million in 2011 – virtually the same as in 2010. The city is setting a target of 1,200 new homes annually in 2012 and 2013. Toronto’s Affordable Housing Office is facing a 10.8% cut in its 2011 budget to $2.9 million, according to the proposed municipal budget. .
As of the end of December 2010, Toronto’s affordable housing waiting list included 76,549 households – an increase of 7.1% over the previous year, and a jump of 15.7% from 2007. A total of 283 households were housed from the waiting list in December of 2010. At that rate, a family that went on the list last month would have to wait 23 years to get a home.