Posted February 1, 2019
Yesterday Toronto City Council voted to approve the Housing Now initiative. ACORN members were initially hopefully when we heard about John Tory's plan to build more affordable rental housing. 10,000 units seemed big, especially after years of climbing rents and developers addicted to building condos.
However, the meat of the report revealed some issues for low and moderate income families. Even though this was city land, the developments would be 1/3 condos. And, only 1/3 would be 'affordable' rentals with the remaining 1/3 being rental with no price specified. Would those be luxury and unaffordable for ACORN members? Who knows!
Our members took action. We emailed and called councillors, met with the author of the report and the director of affordable housing, Sean Gadon, and made it down to city Hall to hold a press conference with Councillors Kristyn Wong-Tam and Mike Layton calling for improvements.
What we won is a commitment for the city to prioritize developments that offer more affordable units with deep affordability over low cost bids that won't get us affordable rentals. We won rent control in some of the units. And we got the city to look into using refundable debt to build affordable housing itself, rather than leaving it all to private developers and the market.
We'll need to continue to fight, continue to organize and continue to make our voices heard in order to win affordable housing that our families can actually afford. There's important decisions being made at city hall in the next few months and years, and ACORN members will need to be active to make sure that low and moderate income families have a place to live and work in the city.