Mayoral candidate Ana Bailão released her housing plan on Monday, proposing a freeze on all rental apartment building demolitions, with a simultaneous focus on ramping up rental development.
Filled with $48.5M in new initiatives, Bailão's housing plan pledges to "take action to urgently build more homes, create pathways out of homelessness, and protect residents and renters who have homes today."
The rental building demolition freeze would be temporary, giving the City time to undertake "a comprehensive city-wide review to provide greater predictability," Bailão's announcement states. As mayor, she would also defend Toronto's regulatory authority to control the demolition and conversion of rental housing, and would "push the provincial government to give Toronto authority to approve development on sites zoned for rental housing."
In that same vein, Bailão pledged to ensure that 20% of the City's goal to build 285,000 homes by 2031 is reserved for purpose-built rental homes, which would generate a minimum of 57,000 new rentals.
To further protect renters, Bailão says she will triple the City's existing rent bank to $15M annually to help strengthen eviction prevention programs. Another $3.5M would be used to fund and expand the City's Specialized Program for Interdivisional Enhanced Responsiveness to Vulnerability Program, which Bailão says will support six times more people in making their homes safer and healthier. An additional $10M would go towards establishing a specialized Anti-Displacement and Evictions Prevention Unit with 30 staff members dedicated to Municipal Licensing and Standards.
To get more desperately needed housing built, Bailão says that approved Housing Now projects -- affordable housing projects built on City-owned sites -- will be required to have a building permit by June 27, 2024 and to have started construction no later than December 31, 2024. "Should these conditions not be met, the City will reserve the right to cancel funding approvals and re-tender the site," Bailão's announcement reads.
The former city councillor is also proposing a $10M investment to speed up construction readiness for non-profit and co-op organizations' pre-development activities, as well as leveraging matching funding from CMHC. She also proposes making additional surplus municipal properties available for non-profit and co-op organizations to build new affordable homes.
Slow-moving development processes have been a thorn in the side of Toronto developers, and Bailão is looking at ways to get City Hall moving. She plans to instruct the City Manager to publish semi-annual updates tracking progress on housing commitment, and champion regulatory and zoning reforms to allow more missing middle housing.
Toronto, and Ontario in general, has struggled with construction capacity, limiting its ability to reach new housing targets. Although not providing much detail, Bailão says she will "foster a safe, healthy and vibrant building sector through support for skilled trades and new apprenticeship opportunities."
Funding for Bailão's plans will come from the City Building Initiative, which she says is forecast to generate an additional $60M this year.