Mayor John Tory is making good on his promises. CreateTO, the city’s real estate agency, is finally issuing its market offering for the first round of City-owned sites through the Housing Now initiative.

The city created Housing Now in December 2018 as a remedy to the affordable housing crisis. The initiative works by offering city land to be developed into mixed-income housing and infrastructure in transit-oriented communities. And let’s be real, who in Toronto isn’t transit oriented?

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Phase one includes today’s market offering of 4 (of 11 total) sites with the potential to create more than 10,000 new residential homes. Total number of affordable rental units included? A whopping 3,700.

“Through Housing Now we have accelerated the City’s efforts to increase the supply of new rental and affordable housing across Toronto,” said Mayor John Tory. “I am proud to see the progress on this first round of Housing Now sites, which will provide quality affordable homes in communities throughout our city.”

With CBRE as the city-designated broker, the first four Housing Now properties fall along transit lines and include: 50 Wilson Heights Boulevard; 705 Warden Avenue; and 777 Victoria Park Avenue, and 140 Merton Street.

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“This is an exciting milestone in the delivery of the Housing Now Initiative,” said Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão, a member of the CreateTO Board and the City of Toronto’s Housing Advocate. “This program will stimulate the creation of complete communities with a range of new mixed-income housing in close proximity to commercial and employment areas and transit hubs, providing the opportunity for Toronto residents to live in these new mixed-income developments.”

Part of the agreement with Housing Now requires developers to keep the rental units affordable for at least 99 years and they must satisfy the various family needs of households earning between approximately $21,000 and $52,000 per year.

“The opportunity to acquire substantial development land parcels and unlock their development potential on transit-oriented sites in Toronto is exceptionally rare,” said CreateTO CEO Brian Johnston. “Rarer still is the opportunity for developers to participate in an offering process that provides the ability to develop large-scale mixed-income, mixed-use communities while incorporating much-needed affordable housing in Canada’s fastest-growing city.”

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So who will win the bid? There’s sure to be a ton of competition. So far more than 1,800 private and non-profit groups within CBRE’s database have received a brochure outlining details of the lands currently on offer. However, interested developers must satisfy the city’s prerequisites in order access an “online data room” that requires key data needed to create a bid.

A selection committee representing CreateTO staff and the Housing Secretariat will announce the winners in January 2020.

“There is significant and growing interest in the Housing Now Initiative,” said Sean Gadon, Executive Director of the City’s Housing Secretariat. “We will continue to outreach with interested organizations and provide ongoing networking opportunities to support the successful delivery of the Housing Now Initiative.”

It’s the first of many steps in the city’s journey towards a legitimate affordable housing plan.