There is hope on the horizon for the many Torontonians who are on a long waiting list for affordable housing.
Five city-owned sites are being turned into affordable housing, including a vacant lot where Mayor John Tory held a news conference on Thursday morning.
Tory, along with councillors Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport) and Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina), unveiled an expanded Open Door program, aimed to fast-track affordable housing in the city. The plan includes both rental and ownership homes.
“We have five more city sites up for construction for a total of 389 affordable housing units. And we’re standing on one of them right now,” Tory said.
Mayor Tory says 5 city owned sites are being put up for affordable housing, including the one we are standing on pic.twitter.com/U0BP3ZeZRa
— Momin Qureshi (@Momin680NEWS) November 19, 2015
Tory said the vacant lot, Block 36 North near Fort York Boulevard, was declared for affordable housing two decades ago.
“It is zoned for residential and ready to go,” he said.
Block 36 North will have at least 80 units, and the city will issue a request for proposals (RFP) to select a developer by early next year.
Earlier this year, the city said it wants to start building affordable rental housing at 200 Madison Ave., near Spadina Road and Dupont Street, by 2016. It would provide units for about 200 people from the Housing Connections waiting list. At the time, Bailao said the rent will be below CMHC’s average market rent.
On Thursday, the city said they are considering 13 other sites that have affordable housing potential.
City officials say there is a housing crisis in the city, with more than 91,000 families on the waiting list for affordable housing.
“We need to do everything we can to build more affordable housing in Toronto, and we need to do it much faster,” Tory said in a release.
“As part of this affordable housing action plan, the City will re-double its efforts and say yes to developers who want to work with us and get the job done in half the time.”
Open Door program to fast track affordable housing has kickstarted 20 years of inaction. Issuing RFP to developers in 2016.
— John Tory (@JohnTory) November 19, 2015
In April, Tory announced the Open Door initiative in an effort to turn more public land into affordable housing, and make it easier for private and non-profit developers to build affordable housing on city land.
The approach would provide financial incentives to help reduce construction costs, while also putting pressure on the provincial and federal governments to increase their efforts.
On Thursday, Tory yet again called on developers in the city to do more to build affordable housing. He also challenged provincial and federal governments to free up more land in the city.
The city is looking to create 200 affordable ownership homes a year by deferring development charges, and providing at least 500 housing allowances so that people can afford to rent or buy units constructed under Open Door.
A report outlining the Open Door program will be considered at the council meeting on Dec. 9-10. City staff are also reviewing how to implement initiatives under Open Door and will report back in May of 2016.
With files from Momin Qureshi