Public housing: City of Toronto, TCHC kick off campaign to pressure governments

Toronto Star| By:  Urban Affairs Bureau Chief| Photo: Colin McConnell


Don’t be surprised if your summer festival hotdog comes with a garnish of chat about Ottawa and the province not paying their fair share of Toronto’s skyrocketing social housing costs.

“Close the housing gap” campaigners are looking for events where they can set up a booth and spread the word that a little help from senior governments will improve the lives of tens of thousands of Toronto families.

Councillor Ana Bailao, chair of the city’s affordable housing committee, and Bud Purves, chair of Toronto Community Housing Corp., launched the two-year, $20,000 campaign at city hall on Monday.

Event appearances, posters, buttons and a website,, are aimed at getting Torontonians to pressure provincial and federal politicians to help eliminate the social housing provider’s $751 million repair bill.

“Right now, they aren’t doing their fair share,” Bailao said of the senior governments, noting that keeping people in safe homes is dramatically cheaper for all than if bad conditions take them to hospital, hostel or jail.

The benefits of fixing TCHC homes and reducing the wait list of roughly 90,000 households include better marks for students in subsidized housing and better job prospects and performance for their parents, she argued.

Toronto’s demands are realistic, Bailão, added on the eve of a meeting of provincial and territorial housing ministers in Toronto.

Ottawa should maintain federal contributions to social housing in Toronto at $161.3 million, aimed squarely at repairs, she said. Ottawa is currently phasing out the subsidy, which is to be reduced by $33.4 million in 2017 and to zero by 2031.

Toronto wants Premier Kathleen Wynne’s government to raise the social assistance subsidy it pays for each tenant in a TCHC building, to match those paid for each low-income Torontonian with a private landlord.

Bailao said that would cost the province $81 million per year. She spoke shortly beforeMayor Rob Ford went to Queen’s Park with his demand that the province abandon plans to phase out $150 million in funding for social housing.

TCHC tenants who turned up at the campaign launch said that, after years of talk, the action in recent months is welcome.

“I’ve been in social housing for 44 years,” said Doris Power, a senior citizen who lives in a TCHC house with her son, who has autism and Down syndrome. “I’ve heard it all.”

“I’m optimistic because of people like Councillor Bailao,” who persuaded Mayor Rob Ford to abandon a plan to simply sell off all of TCHC’s single-family homes to help pay down the repair backlog, Power said.

Instead, a small number of the homes are targeted for sale — including the one Power and her son currently occupy — while mortgage refinancing and other measures will generate an estimated $156 million for TCHC repairs.

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published this page in Affordable Housing 2013-06-28 16:45:07 -0400


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