On October 28, Daily Bread’s CEO Neil Hetherington made a deputation at the City of Toronto’s Planning and Housing Committee in support of Inclusionary Zoning, a new policy that would require large developments in strong market areas to include a proportion of affordable housing. After hearing from more than 60 community members and organizations, we were pleased that the Committee approved the policy to go to City Council for consideration at the upcoming meeting on November 9.
If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us, it is the importance of safe and secure shelter.
Housing affordability has been in a state of crisis in Toronto long before the pandemic. Among food bank clients, over 80% are spending more than half their income on housing, putting them at high risk of becoming homeless. Over half of food bank clients reported skipping meals to other expenses, with the top reason being to pay for rent.
For households earning less than $25,000 annually, as is the case for the vast majority of food bank clients, only 0.2% of rentals in Toronto would be considered affordable.
Inclusionary Zoning is an important tool in tackling the housing affordability crisis. The proposed policy includes a number of important features, including changing the City’s definition of affordability to reflect people’s income level rather than exclusively relating to average market rents, as well as securing a 99-year period of affordability for new units.
While we are eager to see higher proportions of units required to be affordable, analyses completed by the City and by independent consultants shows that the proposed approach is balanced and viable in Toronto.
The evidence is clear from cities like New York and San Francisco that the development market has remained strong and additional costs were not in fact passed on to homeowners.
Toronto’s proposed inclusionary zoning policy will directly lead to increased affordable housing in Toronto, while giving time for the market to adjust. We believe that it is better to adopt this policy now, monitor, and evaluate and continue to strengthen it in future years once the impact is know, than risk delaying implementation any further.
The housing crisis is directly fueling food insecurity, and Torontonians cannot wait any longer.
Toronto City Council has the opportunity to continue to be a leader and pave the way for other jurisdictions across Ontario to implement Inclusionary Zoning.
It is critical that City Council use every tool at its disposal to increase access to affordable, and deeply affordable housing. Inclusionary zoning is one such tool that the City can, and should, adopt to address this critical issue.
To send a message directly to your City Councillor calling for more affordable housing, click here.