DATE: Tuesday, October 12, 1999
TO: Chair and Members of the Planning and Transportation Committee
RE: "A PROPOSAL TO GENERATE A STOCK OF HOUSING FOR
SOCIAL AND SUPPORTIVE HOUSING PURPOSES"
SUB-TITLE "CREATING HOUSING OUT OF AIR"
Kindly place this report on the next agenda of the Planning and Transportation Committee.
The development process creates thousands of units of housing every week for the private sector. In an environment of
non-government support, little or no housing is being added to the social or supportive housing stock. An idea has been
kicking around in my head since last Thursday and I just can't shake it loose. It appears to be a way of generating housing
using our planning powers at no cost to the municipality. It also appears to be a way of uploading some of the costs of
social housing to other levels of government without having to seek their approval.
To date, the city plans for encouraging the development of affordable housing are pathetically weak. They consist
a) Giveaways to the private sector in the form of land or concessions like
deferral of development fees, parks, levies, which have not produced any housing stock.
b) Mandating "small suites" which in themselves could be affordable but are
An idea that deserves to be explored:
Create a "social housing bonus" and build it into the official plan. Have it apply to every form of housing built, including
townhouses, condominium apartments and subdivisions over a certain size. (say 20 units)
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The bonus would be small, say 5% so that if a developer built a 150 suite building, he could produce an additional 8 units
over and above the density limits. The developer would be required to turn 8, 7, 6, or 5 of those units over the city housing
company or some accredited supportive housing provider, e.g… like the Reena Foundation) FREE of charge. They would
have to be finished in the exact same manner as all of the other suites, however, you might wish to add a caregiver
component to one of them.
In exchange, the developer would receive a charitable tax receipt for the full retail sale value of the units and perhaps keep
1, 2, or 3 of the units for his own purposes. He would gain and the city would too.
In this way, the city or supportive housing provider would pick up scattered units in every part of Toronto and not just in
certain low income neighbourhoods. The city's only costs would be the common element condo fees and perhaps the
property taxes. It might even be arranged to have the city owned units exempt from property taxes.
The city could exercise several options. In ultra luxury buildings the city could
Sell the units and add the money to a social housing capital fund.
Rent the units at market value and use the revenues for the upkeep of
affordable housing stock elsewhere, or
as it would apply in most instances, retain ownership and use the suites to provide affordable housing for families.
Whatever rent is charged above the common element, fees would be used to generate or maintain additional affordable units.
Apart from the city generating housing at no cost, the proposal has several advantages:
It fulfills the objective (as previously with co-op housing) of integrating low income families into the fabric of society.
It distributes affordable housing evenly throughout all parts of the city.
It creates "stigma free" living accommodation.
It generates no cost housing stock for the city's purposes.
It generates both capital and operating revenues for the city's housing
It generates new hope for the supporting housing sector.
No government money is required. This should appeal to the conservatives in that it is a total private sector solution.
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From a neighbourhood planning process perspective, it is largely invisible. It
would generate units in as of right developments. Like other bonuses built into the official plan, e.g. Old City of Toronto
free 10% bonus for enclosed balconies…North York bonus for ground related commercial…it just happens.
When councillors are negotiating the size of developments in neighbourhood planning matters, nothing changes. The
bonus would click in afterwards and the small incremental addition is a given and will be largely imperceptible, like group
homes which are as of right and have largely fallen off the political map…they are almost invisible.
The program can be introduced in several ways:
Voluntary: It could be a bonus that clicks in if the developer decides to
participate. In that case, we would have to sweeten the incentive.
Semi-voluntary: Either moral suasion from the social housing providers or gentle section 37 encouragement by the
councillor or the city.
Mandatory: Like development fees or parks levies.
I believe that we could, over time, produce thousands of units of housing
desperately needed by the city at no cost to the city, a win--win--win for all.
I would request that Planning, the CAO and the Community and Social Service Departments prepare a joint report on this
plan and that it be treated as a matter of some urgency.
City of Toronto Councillor
Ids/Planning and Transportation Com/creating housing out of air