While Ontario Premier Doug Ford has been busy on the housing and transit files—among the two most pressing issues in Toronto—his efforts have left much to be desired.
Writing in The Conversation, Daniel Del Gobbo, adjunct professor at Osgoode Hall Law School and SJD candidate at the University of Toronto, noted that while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Toronto Mayor John Tory announced there would be $1.3 billion invested in the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, which will be spent on renovating around 58,000 units across 1,500 buildings, Ford has been conspicuously quiet about how much his government will pledge.
Although Ford’s Progressive Conservatives have earmarked $1b to restore existing affordable housing, as well as to streamline applications, how much Toronto Community Housing, specifically, has coming its way is anyone’s guess.
“Ontario’s recent budget is silent on the issue as well,” wrote Del Gobbo. “It doesn’t mention Toronto Community Housing once. Instead, the budget seems focused on boosting the overall housing supply while cutting access to social programs like affordable housing, income support and homelessness prevention by $550 million per year. Funding for the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Housing and Affairs has been cut by 25% overall.
“Some critics have argued that Toronto Community Housing should behave like any other landlord. They argue its main job should be to collect rents, enforce leases and promptly evict tenants who fail to comply with the rules, regardless of their personal circumstances.”
In the past, Toronto Community Housing been accused of not being frugal enough, and critics have, furthermore, tried to galvanize taxpayers to demand a clampdown.
Del Gobbo argues that Ford appears to concur with such sentiments.
“One of the hallmarks of Ontario’s new housing policy is a change to the application rules,” continued Del Gobbo. “Toronto Community Housing would be empowered to turn away prospective tenants who were previously evicted for criminal activity. Apparently Tory has campaigned for the rule change as well.”
Toronto Community Housing has been roiled by uncertainty since municipalities were tasked with handling affordable housing by the federal and provincial governments over two decades ago, preponderantly through scant long-term funding sources, not to mention support from all three levels of government.
A major ramification is that Toronto Community Housing is staring down a $2.6b shortfall over the next decade for buildings it inherited without the according resources.
With a waiting list tens of thousands of families long, applicants are also facing wait times longer than a decade, in some cases, for large enough units.
“The waiting list includes people experiencing homelessness, survivors of intimate partner violence and human trafficking and terminally ill people with fewer than two years to live.”