Toronto increasing supply of affordable and supportive housing, working with Indigenous communities

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Phase Two of Toronto’s Rapid Housing Initiative (RHI) will establish a new partnership with the Miziwe Biik Development Corporation to develop 5,200 affordable rental homes for the Indigenous community by Indigenous organizations.

“This needed housing is being built in months not years. And the Rapid Housing Initiative is helping the City to realize its 24-month COVID-19 housing recovery plan aimed at delivering 3,000 permanent affordable and supportive homes for people experiencing homelessness,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.

“I’m also very pleased that we can move forward with this partnership with the Miziwe Biik Development Corporation and work with them to increase the supply of Indigenous-owned and led, culturally-responsive affordable homes in our City. Taking meaningful actions such as this are a key step towards truth, reconciliation and justice with our Indigenous community.”

RHI is a federal capital funding program which aims to create new affordable rental housing within a 12-month timeframe for vulnerable and marginalized people experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Through Phase One of RHI, in late 2020, Toronto was allocated $203 million to create an estimated 540 new affordable rental homes.

A second round of RHI funding was announced June 29, 2021. Toronto’s allocation is approximately $132 million under the “Major Cities” stream, which will create a minimum of 233 new affordable rental homes by the end of 2022.

New funding will support the creation of new permanent affordable and supportive housing the through acquisition of land, and the conversion/rehabilitation of existing buildings to affordable housing as well modular and traditional construction.

The City is leveraging the RHI funding to strengthen partnerships with non-profit and Indigenous housing sectors ensuing more equitable housing outcomes for equity-deserving groups. The City has worked closely with Indigenous and non-profit housing partners to submit additional projects for funding under the RHI ‘Projects stream’, where projects compete nationally for $1 billion in funding.

“As a city, we need to leverage all available funding from other orders of government to create homes with support services for the most vulnerable residents living here. I am very excited about the opportunity to also partner with Indigenous groups to create the affordable housing that is desperately needed,” Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão.

The objective under the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan to increase the supply of new affordable and supportive housing opportunities “For Indigenous, By Indigenous” with $36 million in capital funding through its guaranteed RHI ‘Cities Stream’ funding (approximately 27 per cent) to support Indigenous-owned and led projects.

Entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Miziwe Biik Development Corporation (MBDC) will support the creation of 5,200 new affordable rental and supportive homes for Indigenous residents across the city.

The MBDC was established in 2004 by Miziwe Biik Aboriginal Employment and Training. Its mission is to serve as a vehicle for the economic advancement and self-sufficiency of the Aboriginal community in the Greater Toronto Area.

Additionally, council  approved $265 million in City financial incentives for these new affordable and supportive homes through the Open Door program.

Future tenants of affordable and supportive homes created as a result of the adopted reports includes Indigenous peoples, Black and other racialized residents, persons with disabilities, women, seniors, and other people who are experiencing or are at risk of homelessness. These residents will have access to safe, secure and affordable homes in addition to a range of wraparound supports necessary to improve their overall health and well-being.

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