Federal and municipal officials announced Thursday that the Canadian government has committed $132 million from its rapid housing initiative to build a minimum of 233 new affordable homes in Toronto.
The catch is, those units have to be built within the next 12 months. The city says it is looking at options like vacant land for modular housing, hotels, and pre-existing buildings that need renovation to convert into new units within that timeframe. All plans need to be submitted to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation by the end of the summer.
“There has been an increased need in our city for more affordable housing and through this funding we can bring forward new spaces quickly,” Mayor John Tory said in a statement.
“As a city, we have been very focused on addressing homelessness and quickly building affordable and supportive housing. Today’s funding will help us achieve these goals.”
Though the scarcity of affordable housing is usually top of mind in Toronto, that has only expanded in recent weeks, with city security and police clearing out encampments in local parks. Images and video from those moments has led to condemnation from social media and councillors alike for the violence on display in those moments.
“Every Canadian deserves a safe and affordable place to call home,” said Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, in a statement.
“Today’s funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative will go a long way to support those who need it most by quickly providing more than 230 new affordable homes for vulnerable individuals and families in Toronto to keep them safe.”
According to the city’s website, there is currently a long waiting list for applicants for affordable housing, with wait times of seven years or more for a bachelor unit, 12 years or more for a one-bedroom unit, and 10 years or more for larger unit sizes.
The city’s news release also notes that to address the issue of chronic homelessness and to “make the most of the funding” being provided by the federal government, “all governments need to work together to create new supportive housing.
“An essential part of the collective response is for the provincial government to provide operating investments alongside these new capital investments, and the City is reiterating its request for this funding,” the release states.
The statement also notes that back in April, the provincial government confirmed $15.4 million in funding for this year for “supportive housing” in Toronto. The city says it is now working with the province to secure additional funding beyond 2021.
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