After nearly five years spent waiting for social housing, Michelle Mouldey and her three children are finally about to have a home to call their own.
The Mouldeys are one of 50 low-income families set to move into a townhouse complex on Pinery Trail next spring — the largest ever Habitat for Humanity development in the Toronto area.
But while finally owning a home of their own will be life-changing for the Mouldeys, they are one of only a small group of families lucky enough to get a fresh start; something Mayor John Tory acknowledged on Thursday.
"The problem is the number of people who need affordable home ownership or rental is in the thousands," Tory told CBC News from the building site.
"We are at the bottom of a very big mountain to climb and we need to have housing so people of any income group no matter what job they have to afford to live in the city."
Over the last year and a half the city has approved more than 500 affordable-housing units, Tory says. But the mayor argues the city needs much more federal funding to pay for Toronto's social housing needs, something he says is "unlikely to come from property taxpayers."
The federal Liberals campaigned on a promise to invest $20 billion in affordable housing and seniors' facilities.
'We've got a lot more to do'
"I would describe [that] as a good start," Tory said Thursday. "I don't mean to be uncharitable or ungracious by saying that but we've got a lot more to do."
Ene Underwood, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Toronto, credits in particular a charitable organization called Toronto Foundation for the Pinery Trail development. The organization is providing $1.5 million in funding to allow Habitat to extend mortgages to low-income families who might not normally qualify for mortgages from banks, allowing them to speed up their building process, Underwood said.
For his part, 15-year-old Jason Mouldey is looking forward to having his very own room in his family's home for the first time.
But more than anything he's grateful for the kindness of the volunteers who made his family's fresh start possible.
"With everything going on in the news and social media regarding human rights, it's things like Habitat for Humanity that gives me hope that there is still good in the world."
His mother, Michelle, is relieved too.
"It means a lot to actually have something I could leave to my children. Something that's actually ours."