Toronto Community Housing data paints 'grim' picture of future repair needs, mayor says

Without major new investments, half of Toronto Community Housing's buildings are expected to be in "critical" condition in five years.

John Tory still pressuring province to come up with $800M to repair crumbling buildings

This photo was taken out the window of a TCH unit on Bleecker Street that has been declared uninhabitable. New data from the organization shows one half of its buildings could be deemed 'critical' five years from now if new funding isn't provided. (John Rieti/CBC)

Without major new investments, half of Toronto Community Housing's buildings are expected to be in "critical" condition in five years.

New data provided by TCH shows many of its 364 buildings will need more and more repair money in the coming years, while 30 are already in serious disrepair. The organization has already closed hundreds of units in 2017 and warns it will have to shutter up to 1,000 by the end of next year without more funding.

Mayor John Tory, who has been pressing the province to commit some $800 million to help with repairs, said the information paints a "grim" picture of the challenges facing TCH and the thousands of people who live there.             

"The time for action is now," Tory told reporters at city hall.

"In fact, the time for action is before now."

However, Tory said he hasn't spoken directly with Premier Kathleen Wynne about the issue, nor has the Liberal government come forward with any proposals.

"So I have to just assume, for the moment, that their position continues to be — somehow — that this isn't their responsibility," he said.

"And I completely, 100 per cent, totally, disagree with that."

Province defending its investments

In a statement, Ontario Housing Minister Chris Ballard said the provincial government is pulling its weight, citing the example of long-term, affordable loans.

"By June, Toronto Community Housing will have received $806 million through Infrastructure Ontario for repairs and maintenance throughout the city," the statement says.

A further $43 million, he said, has been spent to retrofit buildings.

"It is my firm belief that by working together, we can deliver important action to ensure every family has an affordable place to live in the city they call home."

Wynne's staff, meanwhile, is looking into whether or not she has met with the mayor on the matter of housing.

Mayor calls on residents to pressure MPPs

Tory, noting crumbling social housing buildings can be found all across the city, called on Torontonians to bring the issue up with their MPPs. Late last week, he also won support from two councillors who plan to introduce a motion at this week's meeting calling for a city-wide campaign to get more support from Queen's Park.

Councillors are also set to vote on whether or not to refinance 22 of the mortgages TCH is paying to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). A staff report on the decision says extending the repayment term — something CMHC only started allowing last year — should free up $38.9 million to spend on maintenance work.

The new mortgages will be spread over 30 years at lower rates than they were first signed at.

The city is also banking on being able to use some of the $11 billion the federal government plans to spend over the next 11 years on affordable housing to repair social housing here.

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.