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Toronto vows to build 65,000 rent-controlled homes in bid to combat housing crisis

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Toronto City Council has endorsed an ambitious new affordable housing plan that will set out to build 65,000 rent-controlled homes by 2030— but still lacks billions of dollars in funding.

“It is cheaper to build housing for people, rather than put them in shelters,” Mayor Olivia Chow stressed on the floor of council Wednesday.

Chow touted the $31-billion dollar plan to unlock public land and increase affordable housing targets — in which the city would act as a public builder, alongside non-profits and other levels of government.

“The inability to access safe and secure housing is actually tearing our communities apart,” Deputy Mayor Ausma Malik told CTV News Toronto.

“What we're moving forward today on, is the city stepping up to the urgency and the responsibility within our power to be able to address that.”

The plan seeks to construct 41,000 affordable rentals, 6,500 rent-geared-to-income homes, and 17,500 rent-controlled market homes in the next seven years — which some councillors argued has not been doable through the private sector.

“There is no magic unicorn coming to produce housing,” Coun. Dianne Saxe said during the debate.

Coun. Brad Bradford, who ran against Chow in the mayoral by-election, questioned the City’s ability to act as a public builder.

“The idea that it would be easier, faster and less expensive for government to do that? I think folks who have been around here long enough would certainly suggest that that's not going to be a desirable outcome.”

“We can't be risk-averse when it comes to housing,” Coun. Paula Fletcher argued. “There are so many people that need affordable housing in this city.”

The plan, though, hinges on billions of dollars in government grants. Up to $800 million would be required every year from both Ottawa and Queen’s Park.

The province has vowed to work on a new fiscal deal with Toronto, with the federal government last week agreeing to a seat at the table in those discussions.

“The ball is in the federal government's court,” Chow said Wednesday. “And that ball has been there for a while.” 

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