Lack of Support from Province and Federal Government Impeding the Construction of Affordable Housing

Learn more about what is happening with affordable housing and why governments need to do more. 

At yesterday's Planning and Housing Committee meeting we considered a progress report on the city’s Housing Now initiative. It provided an update on the program to date and recommends a number of urgent actions for all orders of government to unlock purpose-built affordable and market rental housing supply in all neighbourhoods across Toronto. 

Housing Now is a signature affordable housing program in Toronto and across Canada. It was approved by Toronto City Council in January 2019 to activate city-owned lands to stimulate the development of 10,000 affordable rental homes within transit-oriented, 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.

It's also a key in supporting the city's HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan and Housing Action Plan 2022-2026 targets of 40,000 new affordable rental homes and 285,000 homes by 2031 respectively. 

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. 

The Province and Federal Government Need to do More

Unfortunately, other levels of government have not provided the level of commitment required to build the affordable housing Toronto needs. This lack of support has exacerbated the impacts to Housing Now and other residential projects resulting from COVID-19, labour shortages, global supply chain disruptions along with macroeconomic factors including increased construction costs and interest rates.

The province's implementation of Bill 23, More Homes Built Faster Act, has eliminated housing services from Development Charges revenues, which had been the city's primary funding tool to support the delivery of new affordable housing supply.

Federally, recent changes to the federal National Housing Co-Investment Fund have resulted in grant funding being capped at levels insufficient to support the cost of developing new affordable housing in Toronto. 

The need for more purpose-built affordable and market rental housing in Toronto is urgent. The current residential vacancy rate in Toronto is around 1.7 per cent. There are more than 10,800 people experiencing homelessness each night and about 40 per cent of the city's renter households (around 220, 000 households) are living in unaffordable housing. 

The city along with its non-profit and private sector partners are ready to build more than 12,000 purpose-built rental homes, including 5,500 affordable rental homes, in the short and medium terms. The city also continues to expedite the development review of Housing Now files, despite the challenges facing affordable housing delivery. However, immediate and coordinated action across all orders of government are needed to remove hurdles and unlock shovel-ready Housing Now sites.

Key actions recommended in the report discussed yesterday include: 

  • Reimbursement of lost revenues due to Bill 23 plus new financial investments by the Government of Ontario to support shared housing supply goals
  • Enhancements to federal programs including those managed by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Canada Infrastructure Bank, including making some cost-neutral program changes
  • Increasing grant funding to reflect local market conditions 
  • Taking a geographic approach to sites (including unit mix, tenure and grant levels)

You can read the full Housing Now 2023 progress report here. Visit the Housing Now website for more on this initiative.

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