Director Provincial Planning Policy Branch
777 Bay Street, 13th floor
Toronto, Ontario, M5G 2E5
Attention Ms. Laurie Miller:
Adequate housing is one of the basic pillars to combat poverty yet Ontario’s housing market is in crisis and the country’s largest social housing provider does not have the
capacity to keep up with Toronto’s housing demands. The announcement of the Promoting Affordable Housing Act, 2016 gave hope to Ontarians and advocates that
positive reforms are on the way to help alleviate the precarious housing situation. Yet, the proposed regulations for Inclusionary Zoning gives the impression that the Ontario government is all talk with no real action.
Jane Finch Action against Poverty (JFAAP) is a resident-led grassroots coalition of community residents, activists, workers and organizations working to eliminate poverty in our community and in the world. While JFAAP is in favour of some of the goals inclusionary zoning claims to target, particularly increasing the supply of affordable housing, the proposed regulation can barely tilt the housing crisis in Ontario’s rural areas, much less the City of Toronto.
The proposed regulations provide incentives for developers but do not emphasize the needs of those most affected by these policies. Low-income Ontarians desperately require more affordable housing rental units. Yet, the proposed regulation prioritizes the purchasing of affordable housing units as opposed to renting. This is a significant issue for many low-income Ontarians who are by no means financially equipped to even consider purchasing a housing unit. Rental units are the primary need of many low-income communities, as demonstrated in the 10+ years social housing waitlists, but the implementation of this regulation will not assist in increasing access to affordable rental units.
For a single individual living in Ontario, the current maximum shelter allowance for Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program recipients is $384 and $489 per month, respectively. For someone with income levels such as these, living in an urban centre such as Toronto, it would be unrealistic to think that purchasing a property would even be a possibility. Furthermore, with rental unit rates continuing to increase and the additional cost of hydro, renting itself comes with extreme barriers. Affordable rental units should be the government’s priority for these groups.
In addition, the impact of the regulations is only temporary. The proposed regulation stipulates that housing units will only remain affordable for a maximum of 30 years. This is problematic as it postpones the problem to be dealt with by future policy makers as opposed to targeting the issues more holistically in the present. As such, the proposed regulation does not provide an adequate solution and does not address the systemic issues faced by many individuals living in poverty. What’s more, the regulations proposed that up to 5% of the number of units or gross floor area of any new building with more than 20 units can be set aside as affordable.
This is absolutely inadequate. In many low-income communities, this percentage must be at least 5 times higher.
Poverty is often intergenerational and is perpetuated by societal factors. When nearly all of one’s paycheque is being spent on rent it is difficult to invest in opportunities for you or your children in the future and break free from this cycle of poverty. At the same time, without stable housing, individuals are at an increased risk of experiencing other day to day barriers which impede their ability to improve their own situation.
There is no doubt that an effective affordable housing program is an integral part of alleviating poverty and removing barriers for marginalized communities. Housing relates to several other systemic barriers faced by such communities. The province should prioritize access to housing as a basic need and a human right, which sets the foundation for growth in other areas. JFAAP feels that much stronger measures must be taken to address this issue.