Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday April 9, 2022
What Toronto wanted in the federal budget for housing — and what it got
One of the central pieces of the federal budget unveiled Thursday was affordable housing — $10 billion earmarked to tackle the crisis country-wide.
It’s a mix of funding for projects and policy changes aimed at making housing more affordable.
So what was Toronto looking for and what did it get? And what will the budget mean for one of the least affordable cities in the country?
Much of the $10-billion investment focuses on boosting the supply of homes, something that is key for Toronto.
The city was eyeing an extension of funding for a project it’s partnered on with the federal government: the Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI).
That wish was granted. The budget proposes to extend the program, which creates new affordable rental housing for marginalized people experiencing, or at risk of, homelessness, at a cost of $1.5 billion over two years.
The largest portion of the $10-billion budget pledge is $4 billion dedicated to what the government is calling a “Housing Accelerator Fund.” The money will be for municipalities like Toronto to speed up housing development by slashing red tape, and the federal government estimates it can create 100,000 new units over five years.
When it comes to speeding up development, Bailão says the city has projects on the go for which they’d like to partner financially with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) — mainly its Housing Now initiative, which activates city-owned sites for the development of affordable housing within mixed-income, mixed-use, transit-oriented communities.
“I think all orders of government need to work together because if they really want to build 100,000 units … we have 15,000 here in the pipeline that need their financing and we need to make sure that financing is there,” said Bailão.
The question among many advocates is how quickly some of these measures can be implemented in big cities like Toronto, and how much coordination there can be between different levels of government.
“For this city, what’s needed is significant amounts of money and funding that can be spent quickly,” said Matti Siemiatycki, director of the Infrastructure Institute and a professor of geography and planning at the University of Toronto.
“We’re in this crisis. We need all hands on deck, and we need that real coordination and we need a sense of urgency to back it up.” (CBC)