Toronto

With Toronto Community Housing facing $402M shortfall, city mulls taking control of seniors' buildings

Mayor John Tory is voicing support for a plan to create a separate city entity to look after seniors living in some 83 Toronto Community Housing (TCH) buildings.

City staff warn social housing costs will soar in coming years

Toronto Mayor John Tory and Coun. Ana Bailao, left, are supporting a plan to create a new entity to look after seniors' buildings currently run by Toronto Community Housing. (John Rieti/CBC)

Mayor John Tory is voicing support for a plan to create a separate city entity to look after seniors living in some 83 Toronto Community Housing (TCH) buildings.

The move, hailed by Tory as a "bold" plan, would remove the seniors-specific buildings that house some 27,000 people across the city from TCH's portfolio, and set up a division called Seniors Housing and Services (SHS).

A report released Monday says the handover could happen by 2020, although it remains unclear how the city will pay for SHS and how it will be run.

The model as it stands is not working, and has not been working for some time.- Mayor John Tory

"This new entity would have a laser-like focus on serving seniors, and begin a crucial alignment of all of our services to a rapidly-growing seniors population," Tory told reporters.

The staff report says SHS would also be "more directly accountable" to city council.

The recommendation comes as staff warn in the same report — the first phase of the Tenants First plan — that TCH's financial status is "untenable and will become imminently dire." In 2018, TCH will need $402 million to keep up with repairs as well as operating and development costs. In 2019, $515 million will be required.

"The model as it stands is not working, and has not been working for some time," Tory said.

When asked how the city will pay for TCH and the proposed split, Tory and Coun. Ana Bailao said the city will find a way, but also called on other levels of government to help. Tory also said TCH officials have told him they can only spend $250 million productively next year.

Bailao, who charis the city's affordable housing committee, says while no single solution will fix TCH's issues, freeing it from the management of seniors' housing will alleviate some pressure, though the staff report says some seniors will continue to live in mixed buildings.

"It just makes sense that we actually have a very focused approach on how to deliver housing for seniors," she said, noting Toronto has a new seniors' strategy in place.

City staff are aiming to have a permanent funding formula in place for SHS by 2019.

The new recommendations stem from the conclusions of a task force that looked into TCH.

About the Author

John Rieti is the senior producer of digital at CBC Toronto. Born and raised in Newfoundland, John has worked in CBC newsrooms across the country. In Toronto, he's covered everything from the Blue Jays to Toronto city hall. Outside of work, catch him cycling in search of the city's best coffee.

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