Toronto Community Housing has launched a strong push to convince city councillors to okay the sale of 675 single-family homes.
A report on the matter goes before a special executive committee meeting next Friday.
TCHC issued a statement this week saying its bill for backlogged repair work now stands at $750 million, up $100 million from last year. The housing corporation says it needs proceeds from the house sales — an estimated minimum of $222 million — to address the backlog.
Without new money for the fixes, the shortfall is expected to continue to rise by $100 million a year, reaching $1 billion by 2015.
“By doing nothing, we’re going to be beaten here,’’ Len Koroneos, TCHC’s interim CEO, said in an interview this week.
TCHC has nearly 60,000 units in buildings and houses across the city. Buildings are an average of 40 years old, and many are crumbling.
The latest figure reflects new repair needs outpacing the housing corporation’s ability to pour money into improvements, TCHC says. The corporation invested $72 million in fixes to multi-unit buildings last year, but says that amount was surpassed by $173 million in new repair needs that emerged from its aging buildings.
The 675 single-family homes — some vacant and in poor condition, others livable — are valued at between $250,000 and $1 million. TCHC has already sold nearly 30 homes, 20 of them to an aboriginal housing organization, but the proposal to sell all 675 has raised consternation.
Ontario’s housing minister has expressed strong concerns, saying essentially that she’s uncomfortable with uprooting families from mixed-income neighbourhoods and moving them into subsidized highrises.
Residents in many of the 675 houses have also been up in arms.
TCHC, on the other hand, argues that with only 2,600 people living in the single-family homes compared with about 164,000 in the mostly multi-unit buildings that make up the rest of its portfolio, selling the houses would benefit more people.
The sale was supposed to be discussed by the city’s executive committee last month, but the discussion was delayed until some questions could be answered — for example, how tenants would be relocated and how the proceeds would be spent on a ward-by-ward level.
For example, according to a breakdown released Friday, Councillor Anthony Perruzza’s area (Ward 8, York West) stands to see about $14 million in funding for repair work. The upgrades would benefit 10 neighbourhoods in the ward, addressing issues such as crumbling roofs and ceilings, deteriorating beams, furnaces that need repair or replacement, as well as hot water boilers, elevators and plumbing.
Koroneos, the interim CEO, says the sale would be done in the course of a three-to six-year plan, with no more than 60 to 75 houses put on the market each year.
Noting that the $222 million doesn’t cover the entire repair backlog, Koroneos says TCHC would still have to borrow substantially on top of that amount just to keep the agency’s portfolio in a “fair state of repair.’’
But Councillor Adam Vaughan, a critic of Mayor Rob Ford’s housing initiatives, calls talk about a $750 million repair backlog a “manufactured crisis.’’ He argues that there are numerous ways to fix public housing.
“There’s revitalization, refinancing, low-income home ownership, partnering with co-ops — at least a half-dozen different financing options available to us — that render this entire discussion (about massive repair backlogs) unnecessary.”