Mayor to call on provincial Liberals to push for community housing funds

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Mayor to call on provincial Liberals to push for community housing funds

Mayor John Tory says he plans to call on provincial Liberal MPPs to push for more community housing funding for Toronto after strongly criticizing the Wynne government in recent months for not doing enough to fix the city's community housing crisis. 

Speaking at the Thistletown 2 TCH complex, he added that he is "deeply disappointed" that last week's Ontario budget did not include new funding for Toronto Community Housing (TCH) repairs and said he would call on Liberal MPPs to lobby the premier on behalf of TCH tenants.

"In the coming days, I'll be strongly urging provincial Liberal MPPs to help me stand up for Toronto Community Housing tenants and for Toronto to strongly encourage the premier and ministers to act on behalf of these residents," Tory said.

Federal budget a 'breakthrough,' Tory says

The mayor added that cities cannot shoulder the entire burden of community housing because they are "extremely constrained as to they can raise money to pay for things like massive housing repairs."

"Social housing for some of our most vulnerable residents should not be the sole responsibility of cities, including Toronto," he said.

Tory, however, praised March's federal budget calling it a "major breakthrough."

"[It] indicated Prime Minister Trudeau and his members of parliament and ministers were aware of this crisis in Toronto, understood that they had a role to play in order to resolve it and acted accordingly," the mayor said.

So far, the province has committed $2 billion in three years for affordable housing, social housing and combating homelessness, while the federal government budgeted $11.2 billion over 11 years for a national housing strategy in their recent budget.

The federal funds have the flexibility to be used for TCHC repairs, Tory said.

Much of TCH repair bill outstanding

It's money the city badly needs, Tory said, and he added that the city has more than done its part in an agreement set by the previous city council where the federal, provincial and local governments would each pay a third of the repair costs.

"Most of the remaining two-thirds of the repair bill remains outstanding all these years later, to the point where the city has exhausted its ability to pay more," Tory said.

The mayor added that a billion dollars of city-derived funds have already been invested but some TCHC units are still in such disrepair that more than 100 will have to be shuttered in the Thistletown area alone.

Tory previously said that the city needs over $800 million for the community housing repairs, but those funds aren't in the provincial budget.

Instead, Ontario is offering up to $100 million worth of land to build some 2,000 affordable housing units on. Some money is also available through the Social Infrastructure Fund, of which Toronto gets a cut of the ongoing three-year $640-million plan.