Affordable Housing in the City of Toronto

Toronto continues to be a leader in responding to the need for affordable housing. This is reflected in the Housing Opportunities Toronto (HOT) Action Plan 2010-2020 adopted by Toronto City Council in 2009. HOT is assisting a cross-section of Torontonians, from people living on the street to seniors struggling to maintain and repair their own homes. A key component is the Toronto Housing Charter – Opportunity For All – which states that all residents have the right to equal treatment in housing without discrimination as provided by the Ontario Human Rights Code.

The City’s “housing first” strategy is the basis for the Streets to Homes program, a strategy to end homelessness by assisting people to find permanent housing and providing appropriate supports so they can remain in their homes. Tackling the lack of affordable housing is a city-wide issue. Households living in unaffordable or unsuitable housing are found in every corner and neighbourhood of Toronto. For example:

  • One in five Toronto residents live in housing they cannot afford, that is too small for their needs, or that requires significant repair.
  • The 82,000 families and individuals on the City’s ‘Housing Connections’ subsidized housing waiting list live in every ward.
  • Public and private rental housing throughout Toronto requires investment to achieve and maintain a good state of repair.

Affordable Housing learning guide brochure

There is a remarkable range of organizations – private, charitable and public – assisting people to find and keep homes in Toronto. They work with homeless people, tenants, homeowners, seniors, youth, new Canadians and new families.

  • Community groups and faith-based organizations provide valuable services for homeless and vulnerable households, such as the Out of the Cold program.
  • Habitat for Humanity Toronto identifies families in need and potential sites as well as volunteers to work on Habitat construction sites.
  • About 250 social housing providers, funded and overseen by the City, including Toronto Community Housing.
  • Tenant associations – working to retain the availability of affordable rental accommodation.
  • Initiatives such as Tower Renewal and the Municipal Licensing & Standards Multi-residential Apartment Buildings (MRAB) audit and enforcement program.
  • Developers of new housing – creating a mix of market and affordable housing.

Affordable housing is a corporate City priority with some responsibilities mandated by the Province. A number of City Divisions, City Agencies and Corporations are responsible for the delivery of housing services.

Affordable Housing Office
Facilitates the development and rehabilitation of affordable rental and ownership housing; assists low- and moderate-income seniors and disabled persons to make health and safety repairs to their homes; develops and administers City housing policy and partnerships; administers City, Provincial and Federal funding programs for affordable housing development and supports the City’s intergovernmental relations regarding affordable housing.

City Planning
Advises City Council on development projects and any proposal needing planning approvals, including those involving existing rental housing or new affordable housing, after consulting with members of the public, the ward Councillor and other City staff; develops and implements housing policies for the planning approval process; negotiates rental and affordable housing benefits under Official Plan policies and the Section 37 community benefits process; and administers the City’s By-law on Rental Housing Demolition and Conversion including requirements for developments to replace rental housing proposed for demolition.

Municipal Licensing and Standards
Administration and enforcement of by-laws, including property standards, rooming house licensing (former City of Toronto only) and group home registrations (Scarborough, Etobicoke and York only).

Shelter, Support and Housing Administration
Funds and directly provides emergency shelter and street outreach to homeless people; funds services to assist low-income and at-risk households to find housing and avoid eviction; funds and oversees Toronto’s social housing provided by 250 not-for-profit housing organizations, including Toronto Community Housing; develops policy and programs; administers provincial and federal homelessness funding that is provided to about 100 community agencies; plans for and administers the City’s emergency human services response in times of declared emergencies and neighbourhood evacuations.

Social Development, Finance & Administration (SDFA)
SDFA provides leadership on the City’s social inclusion and community safety agenda of building safe, strong neighbourhoods and communities. Through internal, inter-governmental and community partnerships, SDFA leads integrated service planning and delivery, and responds to other community social needs through social policy research and analysis, to improve individual and neighbourhood outcomes.

Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC)
The largest social housing provider in Canada and the second largest in North America, as an arms-length corporation, Toronto Community Housing provides rent-geared-to-income and market housing for 164,000 low-and moderate-income tenants in 58,500 households. Its mission is to provide affordable housing, connect tenants to services and opportunities, and work together to build healthy communities. TCHC administers the subsidized housing waiting list via the subsidiary Housing Connections, on behalf of the City.

Toronto Long-Term Care Homes and Services
Responds to the needs of individuals requiring long-term care. This includes managing 10 long-term care homes, the provision of supportive housing and the provision of homemaking services that allow seniors to remain in their homes.

Others engaged in delivering affordable housing and related services are: Real Estate Services and Build Toronto, for affordable housing on City-owned land, and Revenue Services with City tax and water relief programs for eligible, low-income seniors or persons with a disability.