This is Final Phase of the TorontoCity’s Ambitious ‘Tenants First Plan’ To Hand Over Ownership of Selected Properties.
TORONTO: Mayor John Tory was joined by Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Housing, Diversity and Inclusion, Parliamentary Secretary Julie Dabrusin, Member of Parliament for Toronto—Danforth and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the Minister of Environment and Climate Change and Jag Sharma, President and Chief Executive Officer of Toronto Community Housing (TCHC), along with representatives from Circle Community LandTrust, Neighbourhood Land Trust and YWCA Toronto, to officially announce the transfer of ownership and operation of 760 TCHC homes and selected properties as part of the final phase of the City of Toronto’s Tenants First plan.
As part of the City of Toronto’s ongoing commitment to make housing more affordable, TCHC standalone homes portfolio of approximately 760 homes, comprising approximately 630 properties, has been transferred to two affordable housing non-profits; Neighborhood Land Trust and Circle Community Land Trust. This change will improve services for tenants, bring the homes into a state of good repair, protect the affordability of the homes and build capacity in the non-profit housing sector.
To ensure that these properties are brought into and maintained in a state of good repair, the Government of Canada, through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, has invested nearly $90.2 million in funding and financing over five years. The City is also providing ongoing funding to support operations and capital sustainability. Work has already commenced on the properties.
Toronto City Council directed the transfer of the homes to the non-profit sector as part of the Tenants First plan, which recommended ways to make Toronto Community Housing more responsive and efficient. The City and TCHC carefully selected the new non-profit operators to ensure they are qualified to engage with tenants and will bring the houses to a state of good repair. Transferring the standalone homes portfolio means the City has completed the major initiatives directed by Council through the Tenants First plan, www.toronto.ca/tenantsfirst. Other key accomplishments include the creation of a seniors-focused housing corporation with a seniors-focused housing program and tenant supports for TCHC-owned rooming houses.
Circle Community Land Trust has assumed ownership and operation of more than 600 homes; Neighborhood Land Trust has assumed ownership of 153 homes, which are operated in partnership with YWCA Toronto, a multi-service agency specializing in women-focused housing. Both land trusts are committed to providing and expanding affordable housing options to low-income tenants and will ensure that the properties remain affordable housing in perpetuity, in accordance with the social housing agreement registered on the title, which protects the properties and their use. The City will continue to have a strong oversight role in the operations of these social housing assets. The two land trusts have already completed more than 600 urgent work orders, committed more than $600,000 in urgent repairs and safety work, and 12 formerly vacant homes have been renovated and are now safe, healthy homes for Toronto residents.
This transfer of standalone homes will help advance the City’s 10-year housing plan, HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan (HousingTO Plan), and help strengthen the non-profit sector in Toronto. Actions in the HousingTO Plan include supporting TCHC and its tenants to ensure that the homes are well maintained and operated and remain affordable long term. The HousingTO Plan prioritizes appropriate measures to preserve existing affordable housing and facilitate the creation of additional affordable housing. Beyond helping tenants to achieve housing stability and preserving Toronto’s existing rental housing stock, the HousingTO Plan calls for the approval of 40,000 new affordable rental homes, including 18,000 new supportive homes, by 2030. Since the start of the HousingTO Action Plan, the City has approved almost 20,000 new affordable rental homes, and there are currently 15,000 actives in the development pipeline.
Mayor Tory said: “My top priority is ensuring more affordable housing for Torontonians. I was proud to launch the Tenants First plan to bring transformational change to Toronto Community Housing and meaningful improvements for people in our city who rely on social housing. Today’s announcement means current and future residents can count on their homes being affordable and in a state of good repair for decades to come, and Toronto Community Housing can now fully focus on its core mandate as a social housing landlord. I look forward to continuing our work with partners in government and the community sector to develop more affordable housing, while protecting existing affordable housing in Toronto.”
Minister Hussen said: “Through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund, our government is investing in affordable housing here in Toronto and across Canada. Today’s announcement will bring positive change to many communities across the city by providing hundreds of families with the affordable and accessible housing they need to thrive. By investing in affordable housing, we are ensuring that our communities are vibrant and inclusive places where families want to live and grow. This is the National Housing Strategy at work.”
Julie Dabrusin said: “This investment from the National Housing Co-Investment Fund is improving the economic and social well-being of hundreds of families across Toronto. Our government is making significant investments, like the one made here today, in housing across Canada to deliver secure and stable homes for those who need them most. This helps makes all our communities better places to live as more families are able to find housing that meets their needs.”
Councillor Paula Fletcher (Toronto-Danforth), said: “Every Toronto resident needs a safe, affordable home. This change means that hundreds of the City’s existing affordable homes will stay protected and well maintained. I am very pleased to know that the families and individuals that live in them can continue to be a vital part of our vibrant community.”
Jag Sharma, President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing, said: “To maintain its status as a leader on the national and global stage, Toronto’s housing supply must remain affordable for all its residents. This transfer protects these homes for the future benefit of Toronto and brings TCHC closer than ever to the City’s vision for our organization as one that is more service-oriented and tenant-focused.”
Alia Abaya, CEO, Circle Community LandTrust, said: “As a Community Land Trust, Circle will keep these homes permanently affordable for today’s tenants and future generations. And with the significant funding and support from CMHC, we will be able to bring these homes into a state of good repair and provide sustainability retrofits – resulting in secure, dignified, and environmentally responsible housing for our tenants.
“These homes are truly irreplaceable, and we are proud to be carrying them into the future. Circle would also like to acknowledge the support of Vancity Community Investment Bank, who funded the acquisition and made the transfer possible.”
Ayal Dinner, Board President, The Neighbourhood Land Trust, added: “The Neighbourhood Land Trust is honoured to be partnering with the YWCA Toronto, the City and CMHC to improve and steward this important social housing portfolio as permanently affordable housing on behalf of communities across the west end of Toronto. Through the co-investment of CMHC and the City, the Land Trust will be able to implement much needed repairs and sustainability improvements to 81 properties, benefiting 153 Toronto households.”
Heather M. McGregor, CEO, YWCA Toronto, said: “YWCA Toronto is proud to partner with The Neighbourhood Land Trust and the City to offer affordable housing opportunities for existing tenants and women and gender diverse individuals and their families.
“As one of Canada’s leading housing providers for women and gender diverse people, we know how critical access to housing is in advancing gender and racial equity. We are grateful for this partnership and excited about the prospect of advancing gender equity in housing.”