Toronto approves $351 million to jumpstart 18 affordable housing projects


Michael Lewis

Toronto city council has voted to invest $351 million to “unstick” construction of 18 affordable rental and rent geared to income housing projects, with building to begin this year and in 2025.

The capital spending will speed construction of nearly 6,000 new rental homes including 2,600 affordable and 3,380 rent-controlled units “stuck in pre-development,” a background staff report says.

“This first investment under the program will ‘unstick’ almost 6,000 new rental homes,” and move Toronto closer to its goal of creating 65,000 affordable residences in the city by 2030, the report adds.

Council at its meetings last week also voted to provide up to $260,000 per unit in funding for new RGI and affordable rental homes, an amount coun. Brad Bradford, who supported the motion, said is triple what the city was planning to pay per unit last year under its former Open Door program.

Mayor Olivia Chow said the funding includes additional spending on community supports for tenants over the long term.

The new program also provides incentives to help non-profit, co-op and Indigenous housing providers advance affordable rental projects to support creation of homes with rents of no more than 150 per cent of the city’s average market rent and with limits on annual rent increases.

Mayor Chow introduced amendments asking the province and Ottawa to finance approximately 6,000 new rental homes in the city while renewing the city’s request for expanded provincial rent controls.

The affordable rental program comes on the heels of a staff report that says about 48 per cent of households in the city are renters, with 40 per cent of those living in housing 2021 census data defines as unaffordable.

According to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s first quarter 2024 rental market report, the average rent for a two-bedroom condo apartment unit in Toronto is $3,139.

Council also marked the one-year anniversary of Mayor Chow’s term in office by approving a deal that will see city-owned lands combined with private property to build 447 new purpose-built rental homes in midtown Toronto.

In partnership with Collecdev-Markee, the project combines the city property at 275 Merton St. with an adjacent site owned by a developer and includes a minimum target of 30 per cent affordable rental homes.

The adjacent privately-owned property, at 267 Merton St. will be transferred into city ownership and then leased back to Collecdev-Markee along with the city-owned site for a period of 99 years. Collecdev-Markee will deliver and operate the new rental homes while the city will retain ownership of both properties.

Construction is to begin in the second half of 2025 with first occupancy in mid-2028. Terms were not disclosed.

Staff in the background report said Toronto is facing a lack of affordable and supportive housing for low-income residents along with rising rents that have made the city increasingly unaffordable for middle income earners.


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