TORONTO, October 24, 2012 - Civic leaders came together today to tackle affordable housing challenges at a summit hosted by Toronto Community Housing and CivicAction's Emerging Leaders Network.
"Thriving People, Thriving Places: Why affordable housing matters (and what you can do about it)" brought together 200 leaders from the housing, development, social services, health, non-profit, government and cultural sectors to discuss solutions to the key affordable housing challenges in the Toronto region.
The morning began with opening remarks from Gene Jones, President and CEO of Toronto Community Housing and the Honourable Kathleen Wynne, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Keynote speaker Tim Jones, CEO of Artscape, then shared his experiences developing affordable housing for artistic communities in Toronto.
Next, participants broke into smaller groups to discuss three key issues:
- Housing as a vehicle for supporting people and communities
- Different options for delivering affordable housing, including co-operatives and private sector programs
- Innovative solutions for maintaining aging buildings
Panel members included Toronto City Councillor Ana Bailao, Chair of the Affordable Housing Committee, Martin Blake, Vice President of The Daniels Corporation, and John Trainor, Director of the Community Support and Research Unit at CAMH.
At the end of the day, participants proposed ideas for how they and their organizations can champion affordable housing. Suggestions and next steps will be available on the ELN website later this week at www.elnonline.ca.
"Today was an important step toward reaching our shared goal of addressing the affordable housing challenges in Toronto. It's exciting to hear new voices joining the conversation because we all have a stake in the future of affordable housing."
-Gene Jones, President and CEO, Toronto Community Housing
"Housing affordability affects everyone in the Greater Toronto Area - whether you're a renter, a tenant, or a homeowner. Today, emerging civic leaders rose to the challenge, seeking to understand what's going on and what we can do about it."
-Salima Rawji, Co-chair, CivicAction's Emerging Leaders Network
"Affordable housing is fundamental to the health and prosperity of our communities. We all have a stake in today's conversation - let's move forward together to create diverse, affordable communities with soul, character, energy and spirit."
- Tim Jones, CEO, Artscape.
- The Toronto region is facing significant affordable housing challenges. Funding from higher levels of government has declined to its lowest level in decades. Meanwhile, affordable housing built in the 1940s, 50s and 60s must undergo major repairs in order to remain livable.
- Demand for affordable housing is greater than it has ever been. A quarter of two-parent families, 53 per cent of single-parent families and 69 per cent of single persons do not earn enough to afford average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Toronto region. Across the Toronto region, people wait two to 21 years on affordable housing waiting lists.
- Toronto Community Housing, as the largest housing provider in Canada, faces a $751 million capital repairs backlog. Its aging buildings are at risk of falling apart if money is not found to repair them.
- While building their next strategic plan, Toronto Community Housing is offering city-builders an opportunity to pitch their innovative ideas and then take action over the next three years.
Get to know some of the issues Toronto Community Housing is taking on through its Community Management Plan.
- Find GTA-wide statistics through the Regional Housing Data Bank, prepared by CivicAction and the City of Toronto in late 2011.
- Housing affordability in context: read Toronto Community Foundation's Vital Signs report.
About Toronto Community Housing:
Toronto Community Housing (www.torontohousing.ca) is Canada's largest social housing provider and home to more than 164,000 tenants with low and moderate incomes-about six per cent of Toronto's population. Toronto Community Housing and its subsidiaries employ 1,400 staff in a broad range of jobs, who deliver its mission to provide affordable housing, connect tenants to services and opportunities, and work together to build healthy communities.
About CivicAction's Emerging Leaders Network (ELN):
ELN is an initiative of the Greater Toronto CivicAction Alliance. The ELN (www.elnonline.ca) is a diverse network of 500+ civic leaders working to advance the Toronto region's economic and social prosperity. ELN plays the role of an "action incubator" by convening leaders, helping inform and facilitate dialogue, and offering mentoring and organizational support to groups working collaboratively on challenges facing the region. Members of ELN meet monthly and have generated innovative city-building projects and events such as Toronto Homecoming, Project Neutral, Better Ballots and ELNstudio.
Sara Goldvine, Toronto Community Housing, 416-981-4252 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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