City of Toronto opens door to delivering real action on building more affordable housing

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Mayor John Tory today unveiled a new Open Door program to fast track affordable housing across Toronto. He was joined by Toronto’s Housing Advocate Councillor Ana Bailão (Ward 18 Davenport) and Councillor Joe Cressy (Ward 20 Trinity-Spadina).

"We need to do everything we can to build more affordable housing in Toronto, and we need to do it much faster. This action plan will help deliver more affordable housing to people who need it," said Mayor Tory. "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.”

The Open Door program to fast track affordable housing brings together critical elements needed to kick-start affordable rental and ownership housing construction: surplus public land designated for new affordable rental and ownership housing; fast-tracked planning approvals through a Gold Star review process; additional City financial incentives and federal/provincial funding.

It also calls on the federal and provincial governments to speed the delivery of affordable housing by releasing surplus public land, making new investments in affordable housing and increasing financial and tax incentives for developers.

The Open Door program to fast track affordable housing includes:

  • activating five surplus City sites for the construction of 389 affordable rental and ownership homes
  • releasing an inventory of 13 other City sites with affordable housing potential
  • encouraging the private sector to build more affordable housing by offering City financial incentives currently limited to non-profit groups
  • supporting the creation of 200 affordable ownership homes annually through a development charges deferral initiative, and
  • providing a minimum of 500 housing allowances to increase affordability in buildings constructed under Open Door.

City staff will report back in May 2016 on the implementation of these initiatives and how to make the Open Door program permanent.

"Affordable housing is critical to the social and economic health of Torontonians," said Councillor Bailão. "The Open Door program is about a comprehensive approach to stimulating new affordable rental and ownership homes to deliver real results for residents.”

The announcement was made on a property known as Block 36 North, surplus City land zoned for affordable housing that has been vacant for more than 20 years. A request for proposals (RFP) based on Open Door incentives will be issued in early 2016 to select a developer. Funding for the new Block 36 affordable housing site will be obtained partly through a Ward 20 Section 37 agreement under the Planning Act.

"We have a housing crisis in our city, with more than 91,000 families on the waiting list for affordable housing," said Councillor Cressy. "Today's announcement that the Block 36 North site is finally being activated for the construction of 80 new affordable rental homes through the Open Door Program is an important step towards building a more equitable city."

A report outlining the Open Door Program will be considered at the December 9-10 City Council meeting. The report also requests staff to bring forward the implementation plan on a range of Open Door initiatives by May 2016. You can read this report by clicking here

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