The City of Toronto announced it is making good progress on the Housing Now Initiative, creating new affordable rental housing on City-owned lands within mixed-income and complete communities. Construction is expected to begin in July at 5207 Dundas St. W. and at two other shovel-ready sites, 50 Wilson Heights Blvd. and 140 Merton St., before the end of this year.

With construction beginning on the three shovel-ready sites this year, a minimum of 1,949 purpose-built affordable and market rental homes will be created. More than 800 of these homes will remain affordable for at least 99 years and provide housing opportunities for a range of households and incomes. There will also be more than 1,100 market rental homes created that will be rent-controlled, with rents not to increase by more than guideline plus two per cent annually for 99 years.

“The City recognizes that Housing Now is a critical component of the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan and an innovative way to leverage City land and resources to increase the necessary supply of permanent affordable rental housing in Toronto. We are delivering on our commitment to Housing Now by working quickly to begin construction on the three shovel-ready sites identified for this year,” said Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie.

To date, the City has committed more than $1.3 billion in land value, capital funding and financial incentives to the program, making Housing Now one of the most significant municipal financial investments in housing underway today.

Since approval of the Housing Now Initiative in January 2019, Council has allocated 21 prime transit-oriented sites. To date, 10 of these sites have been re-zoned and market offerings have been completed for six of them.

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The City continues to work as quickly as possible with non-profit and private sector developers to get shovels in the ground while navigating a number of external challenges. Impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, significant increases in construction costs and interest rates, labour shortages and global supply chain disruptions have affected Housing Now projects, as well as other residential projects in Toronto and across Canada.

Legislative changes by other orders of government have also slowed down Housing Now progress. Recently, the Government of Canada made changes to the federal National Housing Co-Investment Fund that resulted in grant funding being capped at levels too low to support the cost of developing new affordable housing in the Toronto. At the same time, the Province of Ontario’s Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, eliminated housing services from Development Charges revenues, which was the City’s primary funding tool to support the delivery of new affordable rental housing supply.

Housing Now aims to deliver 10,000 affordable rental homes – one third of the total homes that will be delivered through the program – within mixed-income, mixed-use and complete communities by 2030. These homes will be affordable to a range of households with a range of incomes, include low- and moderate-income households. Delivery of Housing Now will support the City, Government of Ontario and Government of Canada in meeting their respective housing supply, economic and population growth targets and most importantly, provide the types of housing needed for individuals and communities to thrive.

Featured image: (City of Toronto)

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