Toronto, housing, the community and Toronto Community Housing
On May 18, I watched cp24 Toronto Mayoral debate. One of the questions that was asked, revolved around the ubiquitous question of: how to help the homeless and the issue of affordable housing. Although these are separate questions, they may overlap. A few days later, in the Town Crier, Kris Scheur wrote an article titled: “Housing stock in East York sold cheap”. The article noted that this is of particular interest because:
“The city’s largest landlord has begun the process of selling surplus Beach homes worth millions for a fraction of their market value.
On May 12, city council voted to sell 20 properties across the city with a combined market value of $8.6 million for $395,156 to the non-profit Aboriginal housing provider Wigwamen.
The Toronto Community Housing properties include single-family homes on Pape, Malvern and Golfview avenues, and Milverton Boulevard.
That selling price is the remaining mortgages on the homes.”
These houses were sold by the largest landlord in the City of Toronto. Turns out that the largest landlord in Toronto is the City of Toronto – or more specifically “Toronto Community Housing.” There are some who believe that Toronto Community Housing is the worst landlord in the city. Check out the following YouTube video of the conditions at Toronto Community Housing. This suggests that “Toronto Community Housing” has created and perpetuated some of the worst slums in North America.
Who is Toronto Community Housing?
According to Wikipedia:
“The Metropolitan Toronto Housing Authority (MTHA) was created by Metropolitan Toronto in the 1950s to deal with housing for the poor, and to eliminate the development of slums in the old City of Toronto, and adjacent suburbs. In 2002, four years after the amalgamation of Toronto, it merged with other public housing providers to form the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC), which is one of the largest public housing providers in North America. In October 2008, TCHC was named one of “Canada’s Top 100 Employers” by Mediacorp Canada Inc., and was featured in Maclean’s newsmagazine. Later that month, TCHC was also named one of Greater Toronto’s Top Employers, which was announced by the Toronto Star newspaper.”
This information is corroborated by Toronto Housing where they confirm that:
“Toronto Community Housing is the largest social housing provider in Canada and the second largest in North America. It is home to about 164,000 low and moderate-income tenants in 58,500 households, including seniors, families, singles, refugees, recent immigrants to Canada and people with special needs.
Our tenants come from diverse backgrounds. This diversity includes age, education, language, sexual orientation, mental and physical disability, religion, ethnicity and race as well as increasing diversity in lifestyles and values.”
At the present time, approximately 165,000 “tenants” live in Toronto Community Housing – This is a staggering number! With numbers like this, it is easy to see why Toronto Community Housing is the second largest organization of its type in North America (who is the largest?). Who would have imagined that it is one of he largest employers in Toronto.
Who funds Toronto Community Housing?
Toronto Community Housing fund its operations from rental and other revenues (51% of revenues) and from operating subsidies (49% of revenues). Housing program subsidies are provided to Toronto Community Housing through the City of Toronto. Toronto Community Housing is one of approximately 230 social housing providers in the City of Toronto funded through these programs.
– Subsidies – 49%
– Rent-geared-to-income rental income – 37%
– Market rental revenue – 37%
– Non-rental revenue – 5%
The “subsidies” which form 49% of its revenue clearly come from the taxpayers. To put it another way: approximately 165,000 Toronto “tenants” are subsidized by others. This may or may not be justifiable. That said, it is clear that because of its:
– sheer size (one of the biggest employers in Toronto)
– importance (largest landlord in Toronto)
– cost (49% of revenues are subsidized)
that it must:
– be run efficiently
– must be transparent (On May 12 City Council sold a number of its properties for much less than the market value)
– must comply with the same laws to which private landlords are subject.
Toronto Community Housing deserves to become an election issue. Affordable housing is clearly an issue in Toronto. The whole point of the subsidy is to make housing more affordable for those who need it most. This is a desirable and inevitable objective in any large urban centre.
Making housing more affordable – Option 1 – Rent Subsidies Paid Directly To Private Landlords
It is obvious that the City of Toronto should do what it can to make housing available from private landlords. Why not provide rent subsidies to tenants based on income. These subsidies can be used to rent from private landlords. This is an example of the City of Toronto working with the private sector to promote workable solutions.
If the City of Toronto can work with the private sector on the issue of washrooms for the public, perhaps it can work better with the private sector when it comes to housing for the public. For that matter, the City of Toronto should work with the private sector when it comes to garbage collection for the public. This would avoid the garbage strikes in the summers of 2002 and 2010. It might also ensure less costly garbage collection.
Making housing more affordable – Option 2 – Remove The Discriminatory Property Tax on Buildings With More Than Seven Units
Did you know that the City of Toronto taxes apartment buidlings at a punitive high rate? This is a terrible thing from the perspective of both landlords (it increases their operating costs) and tenants (those operating costs are passed on to them). Anything that lowers the operating costs of landlords is a benefit to affordable housing.
When governments increase the cost to landlords, they exacerbate the need for government assisted housing. The new HST will increase the operating costs of landlords. Sooner or later, these costs will be reflected in higher rents.
When it comes to affordable housing the City of Toronto is every bit as much a part of the problem as it is a part of the solution!
Toronto Community Housing must become an election issue!