At today’s eventful City Council meeting (decisions outlined here), T4SH were disappointed to see the Council approve the sale of over 60 homes. While these were presently vacant, once sold they will be lost forever. In addition, the fact that Council will approve the sale of vacant homes only provides an incentive for TCHC to neglect and abandon homes that are the legacy of yesterday’s social justice and housing advocates. We were pleased, of course, that the original proposal, to sell hundreds of homes, has been stopped.
One of the major outcomes of the meeting was approval of a Special Working Group, chaired by Ana Bailao. The group will look at the implications of the proposed sale of the over 600 “stand-alone” homes for residents, on a property-by-property basis. It will look at the possibility of non-profits or tenants themselves purchasing the homes. The group will also explore how to find additional subsidies, and explore a new intergovernmental strategy to assist in engaging federal and provincial governments in securing long-term sustainable funding in providing safe, secure, and affordable housing in Toronto. The group will submit its report to Executive Committee on September, 10, 2012.
Despite the compelling words of several Councillors who spoke against the sale of the 56 vacant homes (thanks to Janet Davis, Joe Mihevc, Raymond Cho, Gord Perks, Mike Layton! Paula Fletcher!), the motion to sell was carried 31-12 (Peruzza, Vaughan, McConnell, De Baeremaeker, Doucette, Fragedakis, and McConnell also voted against the sale of the 56 homes).
Efforts by several Councillors to make amendments were not successful. Councillor Adam Vaughan moved that instead of 100% of the proceeds from the sale (of 56 homes) going towards a State of Good Repair fund, that 50% should instead go towards housing renewal initiatives. This motion did not pass (18-23). Vaughan also attempted to blunt the market-driven edge from the sales, and make it easier for the properties to go to not-for-profit housing providers. This was lost 18-23. Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam made a motion with a similar intent, which did not carry.
Tenants for Social Housing will remain dedicated to this issue, and work to ensure that the sale of homes does not creep back onto the table as a part of the Working Group recommendations. We are grateful to all the tenants and supporters who have been along for the ride so far – while we are deeply disappointed about the potential sale of 56 homes, our efforts have gone a long way towards stopping a massive sell-off of social housing. We will also put our efforts into trying to stop this partial sale at the Province!