The lack of affordable housing has become a prominent issue for east-end residents in this year’s municipal election campaigns.
It’s a “burning priority” to Beaches-East York city council candidate Jennie Worden.
“I’m going to make affordable housing truly affordable,” she says. “Rent-geared-to-income housing is a priority.”
One factor that contributes to the lack of affordable housing may be the city’s delay in implementing inclusionary zoning by-laws.
According to a Report for Action by the city planning division, the policies are set to help with the supply of affordable housing units by requiring a proportion of units in new developments to be affordable.
However, they are yet to be implemented due to ongoing consultations by planners and stakeholders.
Why is housing unaffordable?
Beaches-East York candidate, Frank Marra, warns the delays are making the crisis worse.
“If the housing crisis is an emergency, we shouldn’t be allowing a delay which we’ve already seen for two years worth,” according to his affordable housing policy plan.
“Let’s immediately move forward on those projects at a scale that still can achieve a fair number of affordable units,” he says.
As it is, Beaches-East York has seen phenomenal housing price increases, his platform notes.
Affordable housing pledge
Advocacy groups such as Right to Housing Coalition have launched a municipal election campaign to advocate for housing rights in the city and are encouraging candidates to take the Affordable Housing Pledge. Frank Marra and Jennie Worden are among the candidates who took the pledge.
“What we are really hoping for when the candidates are in office is ensuring that protocols are built and established that allow tenants to have an active voice when it comes to evaluating their homes,” says Bahar Shadpour, director of policy and communications at the Right to Housing Coalition.
“It’s not enough to build affordable housing — we also need to preserve it,” Shadpour says.
Worden says that “lack of political will and lack of emphasis on housing affordability” are among the reasons for the lack of affordable housing.
East York resident Gordon Mack Scott agrees the city does not see affordable housing as a priority,
“The city can accelerate supportive housing if they have the additional money,” Scott says. “They can break even in five to six years if they get cracking at it, but I don’t honestly see them doing it.”
Steve Thompson, another Beaches-East York candidate, has outlined plans to support affordable housing on his platform, such as rent–to–own programs, working on providing more affordable units, and working with nonprofits.
Municipal elections are taking place on Oct. 24. Seven candidates, including incumbent Brad Bradford, are competing for city councillor in Beaches-East York.