Affordable Housing Canada: Housing Boom, Government Cutbacks Create Rent Squeeze
Rachel Mendleson, Huffington Post
Rosie Da Silva feels like she has been “living on quicksand” for the past year, her future in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats with the power to uproot her on a whim.
The instability set in last fall, when in the midst of an austerity push at Toronto City Hall, Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC), Canada’s largest social housing provider, proposed selling 872 of the single-family homes it operates to help it address its daunting $751-million repair backlog. Endorsed by Mayor Rob Ford, the unprecedented idea has threatened to put on the chopping block 619 occupied houses scattered in neighbourhoods across Toronto, where prices have skyrocketed in recent years.
Among those houses is Da Silva’s three-bedroom semi-detached in a leafy, residential block in Toronto’s east end, where the 66-year-old receptionist has lived with her family since 1981.
After receiving word of the news, she said, “People were furious. They were really angry.”
Da Silva, who has developed strong relationships with her neighbours and has added handmade flower boxes to her front porch, is worried about losing everything she has built.
“We have been in a state of readiness, anticipating a possible move. So how does that feel?” she said.
Their anger did not go unnoticed.
In March, following a tenant-led campaign to prevent the mass sell-off, council voted to create a working group to find alternative solutions to TCHC’s funding problem. On Tuesday,the group’s recommendations, which include maintaining 564 of the occupied homes as affordable housing while supporting those who wish to transition to ownership, will be presented to the mayor’s executive committee. (The working group recommends that TCHC proceed with the sale of 55 stand-alone properties valued at more than $600,000.)
“It’s a far cry from where we were in October of last year,” Da Silva said. “I’m hoping that it gets through.”
The drama unfolding in Toronto is part of a larger trend playing out in many major Canadian cities, where a growing body of evidence suggests that it has become harder for low-income households to put a roof over their heads.
To read the full article: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2012/10/04/affordable-housing-canada-rent-squeeze_n_1938852.html