To demonstrate the City of Toronto’s firm commitment to truth, reconciliation and justice with Indigenous Peoples, Toronto City Council today approved a motion by Mayor John Tory, seconded by Councillor Joe Mihevc (Spadina-Fort York), to convey the City-owned site at 15 Denison Ave. to an Indigenous housing provider to design, build, finance, own and operate a new mixed-use affordable rental housing development.
The City has worked in collaboration with many Indigenous housing partners to identify the site at 15 Denison Ave. (currently a parking lot) as an appropriate location for Indigenous affordable housing.
Council has directed staff in the City’s Housing Secretariat to transfer the site to an Indigenous housing provider for a new mixed-use affordable rental housing development, including outdoor and cultural space. The Housing Secretariat has been directed to identify the future Indigenous housing provider through a Request for Proposals process working in collaboration with Miziwe Biik Development Corporation.
The homes created through the project will remain affordable for at least 99 years. This approach replaces the original plan which called for the City to enter into a long-term 99-year lease arrangement with a non-profit development partner for the location.
In recognition of Indigenous Peoples right to self-determination, Council has also authorized the Housing Secretariat to allocate up to $200,000 in funding to the selected Indigenous housing provider for the purpose of completing pre-development activities (such as site planning and design work) and due diligence work to help get construction underway as soon as possible.
These actions taken by Council today are a tangible demonstration of the City’s commitment to supporting Indigenous housing partners through the implementation of the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan and supporting Indigenous-led solutions that respond to the unique housing needs of Indigenous residents.
For Indigenous, by Indigenous housing development is a priority for the City in its HousingTO Plan. In October 2020, Council approved an allocation of 5,200 new affordable rental and supportive homes for First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples through collaboration with Indigenous housing providers and on sites suitable for developing culturally appropriate affordable rental and supportive housing. In October 2021, Council authorized the City to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Miziwe Biik Development Corporation (MBDC) to support the creation of 5,200 new affordable rental and supportive homes by Indigenous organizations for Indigenous residents across the city.
To meet Indigenous housing targets, the City is dedicating 20 per cent of the capital funding available through the annual Open Door program proposal call to support Indigenous housing providers and projects. Additionally, approximately $36.1 million (about 27 per cent) of the City’s guaranteed $132 million capital funding allocation under phase two of the federal Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) was dedicated to supporting the creation of affordable homes by Indigenous organizations.
In 2020 and 2021, over 200 Indigenous households were housed in various new and existing supportive housing opportunities across the city, including 389 Church St., 11 Macey Ave., 321 Dovercourt Rd. and 877 Yonge St. Over 300 more Indigenous households received housing benefits to assist with their rental costs.
More information about the HousingTO Plan is available on the City’s Housing TO page.
A video about how the City is working to build homes for Indigenous Peoples in Toronto is available to be watched on the City’s YouTube channel.
“Supporting Indigenous-led housing projects is an important part of the affordable housing strategy in the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. Reconciliation requires actions that assert our commitment to moving forward together with Indigenous communities. Only by working together we can help build healthier, safer and more prosperous Indigenous urban communities and ensure access to an equitable and inclusive housing system. Through projects like this one, Indigenous communities are creating housing that meets their needs. I am committed to making way for more Indigenous-focused housing projects as quickly as possible and the action taken today is an important step forward.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The City is committed to supporting Indigenous communities and organizations in Toronto. We strive to build safe, comfortable, and affordable homes in partnership with Indigenous organizations. I’m proud to see City Council leading the change for Indigenous housing and I’m confident that the Indigenous-led development of a new affordable rental housing at 15 Denison Ave. will create a safe space for connection, healing, and celebration.”
– Councillor Joe Mihevc (Spadina-Fort York)
“For Indigenous by Indigenous housing has proven results in best possible outcomes for our urban Indigenous community. Safe, affordable housing supportive of culture and identity is explicit in creating thriving communities and with the continued support of the City of Toronto through creation of 5,200 new Indigenous housing units under the HousingTO Action Plan we can achieve this. As a community that continues to be disproportionately represented in homelessness and housing issues, the need to accelerate housing development is crucial and the conveyance of 15 Denison Ave. for Indigenous-led housing is a demonstration of Mayor John Tory and the City’s commitment.”
– Lorna Lawrence, Executive Direction, Miziwe Biik Development Corporation
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