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December 6, 2002
Toronto welcomes new affordable housing program - City calls on province for rent supplement funding to make new units truly affordable
  
The City of Toronto welcomes today's announcement by the federal and provincial
governments of details of the new Affordable Housing Program.

"During the past three years, the City of Toronto has led the way in developing
affordable housing for families and individuals in need," said Councillor
Olivia Chow, Chair of the City's Community Services Committee. "We are glad
that the federal and provincial governments have now followed our lead and
returned to funding new affordable housing. We've waited more than 12 months
for details of the new rental housing initiative," she remarked.

Under the rental component of the Affordable Housing Program, it is anticipated
that about 2,000 new rental apartments could be built by private developers and
non-profit groups in Toronto over the next four years. Chow stated that a
decision to participate in the new program would be made by Toronto City
Council in the New Year.

"We are pleased with the Government of Canada's investment of $245 million for
affordable housing in Ontario," Chow said. "This injection of federal funds
will help produce new rental housing that will rent at average market rents or
less. The City of Toronto is optimistic that further investments in affordable
housing will follow."

In a letter written today to Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Minister Chris Hodgson, Chow urged the Province of Ontario "to take the next
step and provide long-term rent supplements for at least one third of the units
to be developed under the new program."

She stated that "only through a long-term provincial rent supplement initiative
will units built under the new Affordable Housing Program be accessible to some
of the 60,000 families and individuals currently on Toronto's waiting list for
social housing."

Councillor Chow also expressed concern that the provincial program design is
overly complex and prescriptive. She indicated that the City would be looking
to simplify the program delivery to dovetail with existing City housing
initiatives. She noted that "to work effectively, the provincial program design
must be responsive to the needs of municipalities, private and
non-profit builders, and to the families and individuals in need."

Backgrounder: City of Toronto initiatives to help build affordable
housing


Since amalgamation, the City of Toronto has put in place a number of policy
initiatives and incentives to help spur the development of more affordable
rental housing. Significant steps taken include:

· established a $25-million Capital Revolving Fund for affordable housing

· adopted a "Housing First" policy to consider all City land deemed surplus for
affordable housing as a priority

· adopted an exemption from development fees and charges for new affordable
housing construction

· adopted a special reduced property tax class for new rental housing,
successfully persuaded the province to extend this class to the first 35 years
of a rental building's life

· set up the "Let's Build" program to work with community-based non-profit and
private developers building new affordable housing, assisting in the
development of more than 900 housing units so far

· successfully advocated for amendments to provincial Municipal Act regulations
that allow municipalities to offer incentives to private developers to build
affordable housing

· successfully advocated - along with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities
- to the federal and provincial governments to commit to a new national
affordable housing program

· dedicated a large part of the $53.1 million in federal funding to Toronto
under the Supporting Communities Partnership Initiative to create new
transitional housing

· legalized second suites (apartments in houses) in all residential zones

· delivering more than $6 million annually in federal RRAP funding to
rehabilitate or create more than 500 affordable ownership, rental and rooming
house units.

Questions about the new Affordable Housing Program

Q. Does the City of Toronto intend to participate in the new Affordable Housing
Program?
A. Toronto has been advocating for a return of federal and provincial funding
for new affordable housing for years and welcomes the announcement of this new
program. A decision to sign a program administration agreement and participate
in the program will be made by Toronto Council early in 2003.

Q. How and when can someone apply for funding?
A. Provided the City and Province sign a program administration agreement, the
City would issue a competitive tender call. The first tender call could be
issued in spring 2003.

Q. How much government funding will be provided per unit?
A. The program provides for an average grant of $25,000 in federal funding for
each rental unit built under the program. Additional support would come from
the Province's PST rebate of up to $2,000 per unit, plus City of Toronto
assistance in the form of capital and other incentives.

Q. What capital incentives would the City of Toronto offer?
A. City of Toronto assistance could come from its Capital Revolving Fund for
Affordable Housing either as an additional grant, a loan or a combination; land
that has been deemed surplus to the City's needs; exemptions from development
fees and charges; and property tax reductions for up to 35 years.

Q. What assistance can the City offer to obtain all the various approvals
required?
A. Individual developers of affordable housing benefit from the services of the
City's Let's Build program to shepherd a project through the approvals process
and to package funding assistance and incentives.

Q. Will units be available under rent supplement agreements?
A. The City may require a percentage of units in a project to be available to
residents who qualify for rent supplements. This would be dependent on
provincial rent supplement funding being available.

Q. Who decides which projects receive funding?
A. Recommendations for funding would be approved by Toronto Council. Successful
applicants sign a contribution agreement with the Province, from which funding
would flow directly.

Q. How can someone stay informed about the program?
A. Contact the Let's Build program at 416-392-4284 to receive updates about the
new program.


Media Contact
Access Toronto
416-338-0338

 

 

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