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Civic Impact

Social housing advocacy campaign launches in Toronto

At a City Hall press conference this past Monday, the City of Toronto, in partnership with Toronto Community Housing (TCH) announced the launch of a new social housing advocacy campaign: Close the Housing Gap.

The aim of new campaign, explained Councilor Ana Bailão--Ward 18, Davenport, and Close the Housing Gap co-chair--is to press the federal and provincial governments to continue to support social housing in Toronto.

"The City is working hard with its partner Toronto Community Housing to put people first by fixing social housing," said  Councilor Bailão. "But there is still a housing gap which can only be closed through new and ongoing funding from Ottawa and Queen's Park. Raising property taxes is not the answer."

In September 2012, a City of Toronto Special Housing Working Group released "Putting People First: Transforming Toronto Community Housing," a report that laid out a five-year capital plan to maintain and expand social housing in the city. The launch of Close the Housing Gap is one of the recommended actions in Putting People First, which was adopted by City Council in November, 2012.

But, without additional funding, says Baileo (who also chaired the working group), the Toronto Housing Corporation--the City of Toronto's non-profit housing corporation that manages social housing--will not be able to keep up with repairs or acquire much-needed new properties. 

"By implementing recommendations in the Putting People First report, we already have plans in place to generate $156 million in revenue to help pay for repairs and there's more to come," said Bud Purves, Bailão's co-chair and chair of the Toronto Community Housing Board. "But, with our aging buildings, the repair backlog will continue to grow in the coming years unless the federal and provincial governments step up."

Close the Housing Gap is being launched in direct opposition to continued withdrawal of federal funds from social housing across the country. In 2012, the City of Toronto received approximately $161.3 million from the federal government towards social housing, by 2017 that that number is expected to be closer to $128 million (a decline of $33.4 million) and will reach zero by 2031.

In order to draw attention to the need for continued support for social housing, Close the Housing Gap will employ, among other methods, bus shelter posters, buttons, pamphlets, postcards and public events.

The goal is to encourage Torontonains to organize events in support of the campaign and to contact their federal and provincial representatives to urge them to "close the housing gap" by continuing to fund housing at existing levels and to provide new, long-term funding for social housing capital repairs.

Writer: Katia Snukal
Source: City of Toronto 
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