Despite progress over the past decade to ramp up federal, provincial and local measures, residents continue to struggle to secure and maintain affordable, suitable and stable housing. Particularly hard hit are homeless and vulnerable residents and lower-income tenants. Housing affordability is expected to worsen over the next two decades considering the City’s fast pace of growth, with population projected to rise from 2.93 million in 2017 to 3.4 million in 2041, an increase of 33.5 percent (Ontario Ministry of Finance). Within the same timeframe, the number of people in Toronto aged 65 and over is expected to almost double by 2041, increasing pressure on support services including long-term care homes (Toronto Senior’s Strategy Version 2.0).
Unaffordability is a driver of core housing need in Toronto. As of the 2016 Census, 406,070 or 37 percent of Toronto’s 1,112,905 households spend more than 30 percent of their before-tax income on shelter (rent, mortgage, taxes, repairs, etc.). Of the households that spend more than 30 percent of their before-tax income on shelter, 245,605 or 60 percent are rental households, and 160,465 or 40 percent are owner households.
There are different affordability challenges faced by renters versus owners. According to the 2016 Census, of owner-households in Toronto, 27 percent had unaffordable housing, meaning they spent more than 30 percent of their total household income on shelter costs. For tenant-households, this rate was significantly higher at 47 percent. In 2017, purpose-built apartment rents increased the most in 15 years, and vacancy rates reached the lowest in 16 years at one percent (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation). In the low-end of the rental housing market, asking rents were nearly 1.5 times above the average market rent (Low End of the Rental Market Study –Listings Database).
The growth of core housing need is projected to accelerate at twice the rate to 2030 compared to the previous 12 years, growing by 44,000 households from 2018 to 2030 to a total of 293,000 households, more than two times the increase of 17,000 between 2006 and 2018. Toronto’s social housing waitlist includes approximately 97,000 households with an average wait time of 8 to 10 years. Incomes are not keeping pace with the rising cost of housing in Toronto.
Housing System Cannot Meet Growing Demand – The demand for affordable housing in Toronto is expanding as the cost of housing rises, and income inequality grows. The number of households on the centralized waiting list continues to increase with only a small percentage housed from the waiting list each year. There are approximately 97,000 active households on the centralized waiting list for social housing with just over 3,200 households housed from the waiting list in 2017.
Social Housing Capital Funding Withdrawal – Out of a $316 million conditional allocation of capital funding through the Social Housing Apartment Improvement Program (SHAIP), to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in social housing, the new Provincial Government has cancelled years two, three and four, resulting in a loss for Toronto of $180.3 million.
Other Social Housing Capital Issues – Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) requires $2.6 billion over ten years to maintain its portfolio in a fair state of repair. The City has committed over $1 billion to TCHC and has long-standing requests to the federal and provincial governments to cost share the repairs and capital renewal.
Declining Social Housing Operating Funding – Social housing has been funded by all three levels of government – federal, provincial and the City – through a variety of different programs. For many years, both the federal and provincial governments have reduced and withdrawn financial support for social housing through respective programs placing significant pressure on the City’s social housing budget. Through the National Housing Strategy, the City anticipates that federal funding will be maintained at current levels. In the absence of a commitment to keep existing subsidies, the City is projecting losses of $8.6 million in 2019, $20.0 million in 2020, and $18.8 million in 2021 with a three-year cumulative impact of $84.6 million. The City has called on the Federal Government to reinvest funds from expiring federal social housing agreements back into social housing to ensure affordable housing is available to the most vulnerable households.
Loss of Affordable Stock through Expiring Operating Agreements – Operating agreements for social housing developed under former federal programs are beginning to expire. 9,300 former federal non-profit units under the City social housing administration and 7,200 units in co-operatives under federal administration are at risk in Toronto through expiry of operating agreements.
Increased City Housing Targets, Deeper Affordability – On March 26, 2018, City Council increased the City’s supportive housing targets (2018 CD26.5). On June 26, 2018, Council asked the City Manager to review the definition of affordable housing under the City’s Official Plan (EX36.27). Currently, affordable rental housing and affordable rents are defined as housing where the total monthly shelter cost is at or below Toronto’s Average Market Rent (AMR) by unit type. Changes to City targets may strain existing government resources, requiring innovative solutions and thoughtful consideration of City priorities. Inclusionary zoning would help increase the supply of affordable housing in Toronto but has yet to be implemented. Council will consider a proposed policy framework in early 2019.
Ontario Development Charges Rebate Program – The new Provincial Government has cancelled the program that would have provided an allocation to Toronto of $60 million for five years (2018-2022) to support the construction of new purpose-built non-luxury rental housing.
Provincial Decision on Phase 2 of the Provincial Affordable Housing Lands Program – The new Provincial Government has also cancelled a proposed mixed development on the Thistletown site. The overall development was to include a new mixed-income community with 160 affordable rental homes and 80 affordable ownership homes. City Council pre-approved Open Door incentives supporting achievement of the City’s 2018 targets.
Long-Term Care (LTC) Homes Beds – The City’s Long-Term Care Homes and Services Capital Renewal Plan creates the potential to add LTC beds into larger vertical communities along with affordable housing, community hubs and co-located City services. In May 2018, City Council approved a goal of at least 786 more LTC beds during the renewal and redevelopment of five of the City’s ten LTC homes. While this supports the Province of Ontario’s target of adding 15,000 beds by 2020 across Ontario, there is concern about a net loss of beds in Toronto. Some LTC operators in Toronto, concerned about mandatory redevelopment, have signalled to the Province their intention to relocate outside of the City, mainly due to the cost of land, or cease operations rather than redevelop.
|Affordable Housing Office||Oversight and delivery of funding for development of new affordable, supportive and transitional rental and ownership housing (Open Door Program, public land); essential health, safety, accessibility and energy efficiency repairs and modifications; development charges rebate and programs for secondary laneway dwelling units, non-luxury rental housing (under review) and affordable homeownership; and development and implementation of housing policy and partnerships, including Housing Opportunities Toronto|
|City Planning||Housing policy, e.g., rooming houses, secondary units, rental housing, market conditions, inclusionary zoning policy, housing definitions (e.g., affordable ownership housing)|
|Long-Term Care Homes and Services||Capital redevelopment of LTC homes with affordable housing|
|Municipal Licensing and Standards||By-laws for apartment buildings, Rent Safe TO and multi-tenant housing (rooming houses)|
|Real Estate Services||Provision of C land for affordable/transitional or supportive housing, long-term care and shelters|
|Toronto Public Health||Link between inadequate housing/homelessness and determinants of health|
|Shelter, Support and Housing Administration||Oversight, administration of funding, and direct delivery of emergency shelter services; housing stability and homelessness services, including housing supports and services; social housing administration; affordable rental housing legal agreements; housing benefits; Access to Housing system; and development and implementation of housing policy including Housing Opportunities Toronto|
|Social Development, Finance and Administration||Funding and oversight of TCHC through the Tenants First Project. (For more information see Toronto Community Housing and Tenants First briefing note.)|
|Toronto Community Housing Corporation||Social housing provider: 2,100 buildings, home to 60,000 low and moderate-income households, $9B public asset wholly owned by the City of Toronto|
|Toronto Employment and Social Services||Oversight for Housing Stabilization Fund|
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