Mayoral candidate’s $407.6 million plan will create livable, affordable neighbourhoods
May 18, 2023 – Mayoral candidate Josh Matlow today announced that, as Mayor, he will forge ahead with a new direction for housing in Toronto. His comprehensive housing plan addresses both the urgent housing and homelessness crises facing Torontonians today. His plan will invest $407.6 million to lower the cost of housing, support homeless residents and create more great places to live in neighbourhoods that include childcare, schools, infrastructure and parks.
“Whether you’re a young person starting your career, someone who wants to live close to your job or a senior who wants to age well at home, you need a home that fits your budget,” said Matlow. “My comprehensive plan to combat the housing crisis creates a range of options so everyone can afford to live here.”
Nearly half of Torontonians spend more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, and for too many young families home ownership remains a distant dream. Unfortunately, Toronto’s signature affordable housing plan, Housing Now, has failed to create a single new place to live over the past six years. And for the 10,000 Torontonians experiencing homelessness, our City has not provided the bare minimum of emergency indoor spaces or opportunities for more permanent homes for our most vulnerable.
“A comprehensive housing plan is not just about buildings – it’s about building communities,” said Matlow. “A healthy community is affordable and has the services, infrastructure and parks that contribute to a great quality of life.”
Matlow’s comprehensive housing plan includes three priorities:
Create more great places to live
Under the current development planning process at the City, Toronto reacts more than it plans ahead. City Planning reviews individual planning applications without considering the needs of the broader community as a whole, which leads to delays and lengthy appeals. To deliver needed housing faster, Matlow will:
- Change the development process so that City Planners work with stakeholders (tenant associations, school parent councils, social service providers, business owners) at the outset to develop Community Housing & Services Plans. These comprehensive area plans will outline neighbourhood services, infrastructure and parks up front and eliminate costly, lengthy ad-hoc consultations.
- Approve nine-storey buildings as-of-right on designated avenues with no terraced step backs or “pyramid” requirements that restrict the number of units.
- Review density and height limits on major arterial roads where it makes sense to accommodate more people.
- Provide options to add up to three rental units to an existing home so a homeowner can choose to age in place and open up unused space for family members or tenants. Make it faster and cheaper to get City approval with as-of-right zoning for up to four units and a dedicated team of City lawyers, architects and planners to speed up applications.
- Encourage construction of new apartment buildings by shifting the property tax classification for these from Multi-Unit Residential to lower than Residential rates.
- Meet or exceed provincial density targets in all Major Transit Station Areas
- Fast track development applications that provide meaningful community benefits, such as affordable housing.
To make sure all new developments have the services, parks and infrastructure needed for a good quality of life, his Community Housing & Service Plans approach will:
- Set per-person targets for providing community services including libraries, recreation space, parks, school space, social services and affordable childcare.
- Spell out technical assessments of transit, water and electrical capacity.
- Take advantage of provincially mandated 4 per cent Community Benefit Charges and Development Charges, supplemented with allocations from Matlow’s previously announced City Works and Community Health and Safety Funds, to ensure adequate community services and infrastructure.
- Ensure community space in the base of new buildings in lieu of Community Benefit Charges where appropriate.
Matlow also recently proposed that the City get into the business of building housing itself. To take advantage of 25 million square feet of public land, Matlow will invest $300 million in seed money to create Public Build Toronto, a new City agency that will:
- Develop affordable housing on City-owned lands.
- Generate 8,250 rent-controlled market apartments and 6,750 affordable apartments, including 750 deeply affordable units for Torontonians on very low or fixed incomes.
Reduce the cost of housing
Like most global cities, Toronto’s housing crisis is due, in part, to speculation driving prices up. Regulatory shifts decades ago that have allowed housing to be bought and sold like other commodities have led to housing being treated exclusively as an investment instead of being recognized as a basic need. While many of the regulatory changes required to curb speculation can only be done at the federal and provincial levels, there are some steps the City can take. To curb real estate speculation Matlow will:
- Double the land transfer tax on the purchase of a second residential property for foreign and domestic buyers, with exemptions such as new construction and joint tenancy with your children.
- Request an investigation by Toronto Police Service into money laundering in Toronto’s real estate market.
- Double the number of by-law officers dedicated to investigating illegal Airbnbs and other short-term rentals.
- Advocate to the federal government to address Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that allow for apartment buildings to be bought and sold as commodities rather than treated as people’s homes.
Matlow also recently proposed that the City improve apartment affordability and strengthen protections for the 50 per cent of Toronto residents who are renters. Matlow will invest $51.5 million in a Tenant Support Program that will:
- Put $50 million more into the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition program – or MURA – to help the City buy affordable apartment buildings.
- Establish rent control in units that get City funding.
- Fund paralegals to fight unfair rent increases.
- Stand up for tenant rights at the provincial level and advocate that Premier Ford bring back rent control and remove above-guideline rent increases.
- Crack down on fraudulent evictions and bad landlords.
Support homeless Torontonians
Many of the 10,000 Torontonians who are homeless are refugees, newcomers or living with significant health problems. People need permanent housing. In the meantime, those who use Toronto’s shelters and those who work with them have made it clear that our system is not safe or welcoming. There are not enough emergency respite spaces and shelters need better wraparound services to support and help people who use them. In close consultation with people who are homeless, community advocates and frontline workers, Matlow will invest $56.1 million to:
- Create 2,000 new rent supplements and expand the qualifying criteria to help more people who are homeless transition into full-time, stable housing ($30 million annually).
- Open a year-round respite service instead of opening warming centres during extreme cold weather ($5 million).
- Improve standards in the City of Toronto’s shelter network ($15 million annual investment).
- Increase funding to the Toronto Drop-in Network for immediate access to meals, showers and other support ($5 million annual investment)
- Increase outreach to those experiencing homelessness and review “streets to homes” outreach operations ($1.1 million annually, or a 10 per cent increase in funding).
- Conduct a full review of shelter policies on security, bed checks, locker spaces, nutritious meals, harm reduction and overdose prevention programs and more.
“There’s an important reason that my comprehensive housing plan includes policies that impact and improve life for homeowners, renters and people who are homeless,” said Matlow. “We all live in this city and we all deserve to live well.”
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.
Matlow’s comprehensive housing plan will make a $407.6 million total investment across three priority areas, some of which change the way the City does things and some of which are new investments.
Matlow’s cost for the Tenant Support Program is estimated to be $51.5 million. $50 million will come initially from the City’s capital budget by choosing to rebuild the portion of the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis at ground level instead of as an elevated expressway and from the City Works Fund on an ongoing basis. The rest of the money – $1.5 million – will come from his recently announced Community Health & Safety Fund.
The $300 million in seed money to create Public Build Toronto will come from the City’s capital budget by choosing to rebuild the portion of the Gardiner Expressway east of Jarvis at ground level instead of as an elevated expressway.
Funds to support Matlow’s investment of $56.1 million over his first term to support homeless residents to find permanent housing and improve their experience with the shelter system will come from his recently announced Community Health & Safety Fund.
- 2000 rent supplements at $30 million, based on an assumption of a standard rent supplement of $1250/month/person. $1250*12*2000=$30 million.
- $1.1 million is 10 per cent of the outreach budget as per https://www.toronto.ca/legdocs/mmis/2023/bu/bgrd/backgroundfile-231127.pdf
- The $5 million to open respite spaces will be used in partnership with community agencies to provide emergency safe and indoor spaces on a 24/7, year-round basis, with additional surge capacity for cooling and warming during extreme weather conditions.