TORONTO—Toronto City Council has approved Housing Now, an initiative aimed at increasing the supply of new affordable rental housing within mixed-income communities by making municipally-owned properties available to non-profit and private organizations.
The first phase of the plan is expected to provide about 10,000 new residential homes, including up to 3,700 affordable rental homes with average rents that will not exceed 80 per cent of Toronto’s average market rent. Homes created through the initiative will be affordable for households earning between $21,000 and $52,000 per year.
According to the release, Housing Now will provide up to $280 million in financial incentives in support of the 3,700 affordable homes, including relief from development charges, building permit fees, planning application fees and parkland dedication fees as well as property taxes for the 99-year term during which the rents will remain affordable. The sites will be offered to non-profit and private organizations with a priority toward long-term leases for the rental housing component.
Development proposals must include planning for complete communities and new housing must be complemented by other requirements such as community centres, child care, schools and parks, indicates the release. The properties should also be in close proximity to commercial/employment areas and transit hubs.
To start, four sites in the city will be made available for market redevelopment: 777 Victoria Park Ave., 50 Wilson Heights Blvd., 140 Merton St. and 3741 Bloor St. W./part of 925 Kipling Ave.
The remaining seven sites are expected to be made available by 2021 and construction on some of the sites is expected to begin in late 2020 with completion targeted for 2022 to 2024.
A Housing Secretariat will be established to facilitate the planning and development of the sites and oversee the public market offering process. City staff is expected to develop key guidelines for development on each site and initiate Official Plan and Zoning By-law amendments where appropriate in order to expedite construction and occupancy of the projects.
The city and CreateTO will continue to identify municipally owned sites that can be used for affordable housing projects and the city will also be requesting the federal and provincial governments to identify surplus sites in Toronto, the release states.
“Housing Now brings forward new city resources to work in partnership with the private, non-profit and co-op sectors to build new rental and affordable housing for all Torontonians,” said Ana Bailao, deputy mayor and planning and housing committee chair, in a statement.