Toronto’s affordable housing wait list continues to set stunning new records month after month. The list stands at an all-time high of 83,681 households in March – up a staggering 7% in the past year. The March number beat the previous record set in February, and that beat the previous record set in January. The wait list has set new records every month since before the recession in late 2008. The wait list numbers underline the urgent shortage in affordable housing in Toronto, and also reinforce the message that Toronto Community Housing Corporation – the city’s affordable housing agency – needs to preserve and protect all of its homes, rather than moving forward with a plan for a massive sell-off of affordable homes.
The newly-appointed TCHC board was put in place in a controversial move after the previous board was purged in an unprecedented bid by Mayor Rob Ford and replaced with a political crony. Over the past year, it has been pressing for the sell-off of more than 600 TCHC single family buildings, which provide a home to more than 1,200 tenants and their families. The board points to numbers generated by TCHC which suggest the housing company has a long-term capital repair shortfall of $751 million, largely caused when senior levels of government downloaded social housing to the city without adequate capital reserves.
When a majority of city councilors threatened to block the mayor’s sell-off plans, a political compromise was adopted by Toronto City Council in March. Councillor Ana Bailao, chair of Toronto’s affordable housing committee, was appointed head of a four-person task force to chart a more sustainable future for TCHC. The Wellesley Institute backed plans for the special commission, and has set out seven key priorities for the working group as it moves quickly towards a September deadline for making its recommendations.
Wellesley Institute backgrounder on 2012 wait list numbers, and on the numbers from 2004 to 2011 here.