Five housing items Councillor Ana Bailao wants in the federal budget (Metronews)

(Highrises in downtown Toronto. EDUARDO LIMA / METRO) 

Cities across the country are anxiously awaiting Wednesday’s federal budget to see how much the government dedicates to housing initiatives. Between sky-high prices, a 1.3 per cent vacancy rate for tenants and a record-length waiting list for social housing, Toronto has plenty of needs. The 2018 budget is seen as the city’s best shot at getting long-sought funding. Officials hope $12.6 billion will be dedicated to housing infrastructure across the country, but rumours place the number closer to $11 billion. Metro spoke with Coun. Ana Bailao, Toronto's housing advocate, about her housing wish list for the budget.

Not just home ownership

Bailao said policies should be about more than subsidizing home ownership. “In order to tackle housing, you need policies that will address different points of the housing continuum,” she said, referencing social housing, rental housing and the shelter system.

$864 million

For four years, city council has requested that the federal government fund a third of the $2.7 billion in needed repairs to Toronto Community Housing. The federal government, like the province, has yet to do so. “We’ve been advocating for this for a while,” Bailao told Metro.

$7 to $8 million per year

“We want to see the federal government maintain existing levels of funding for social housing,” added Bailao. The existing plan will see the federal government contribute $7 to $8 million less to Toronto each year until 2030, which creates an annual budget crunch for the city.

Tax incentives for purpose-built rental

Bailao would like to see the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation give loans for purpose-built rental housing and provide GST relief for builders of new units.

Support for homelessness

Bailao would like federal money to support the homeless too. Specifically, she’d like to see the Homelessness Partnering Strategy made permanent and its funding doubled. The program matches funding for initiatives that reduce and prevent homelessness in urban centres and among Indigenous communities.

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