Toronto Community Housing's transfer of single-family houses a cost-effective approach that preserves affordable housing

Toronto Community Housing's transfer of single-family houses a cost-effective approach that preserves affordable housing

October 28, 2010

Toronto Community Housing is transferring ownership of 20 single-family houses to Wigwamen Inc., a well-respected and highly-regarded Aboriginal housing provider, in a deal that supports efforts to keep the organization on a sound financial footing while maintaining affordable housing for low-income Torontonians.

The transfer, approved by Toronto City Council in May 2010, balances the need to repair the houses, which will have a combined $1.2 million in capital needs over the next 10 years, with our legal requirement to replace housing we sell. These requirements come from the Social Housing Reform Act and from direction we have received from our service manager, the City of Toronto.

"We are in a difficult position. We have 20 houses that require $1.2 million in repairs. The quick solution is to sell but we are required by law to replace them with the same number of affordable housing units. That would cost $3 million more than we would get from selling the houses. The transfer to Wigwamen is a positive solution for all involved. Wigwamen has access to federal funding for repairs. We avoid costly mortgage payments, capital repairs and development expenses. And our transfer agreement ensures the houses continue to be used for affordable housing for people who need them," said Mitzie Hunter, chief administrative officer of Toronto Community Housing.

The transfer is an efficient use of the assets. By shifting these resources across different organizations, we are meeting the needs of hard-working families who are on waiting lists for housing while reducing our cash flow obligations. Transferring the houses also means the organization avoids future development costs, as selling the houses on the open market and replacing them would require an additional investment of as much as $3 million.

  • Sales would generate an estimated $8.6 million
  • However, replacing them would cost us as much as $11.6 million
  • Replacement costs include commissions, demolition, construction, planning, design, fees and the cost of land
  • Replacing the houses with multi-unit apartments is more costly to design and build

The agreement with Wigwamen was approved through an open and transparent process. The City of Toronto's Community Development and Recreation Committee dealt with the matter at its April 23, 2010 public meeting. Toronto City Council gave its approval at its May 12, 2010, public meeting. Toronto Community Housing has since sought and received approval from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.


Read the City of Toronto reports and council meeting minutes:

The transfer to Wigwamen supports the City of Toronto's Housing Opportunities Toronto strategy, which places a strong emphasis on Aboriginal housing.

In August, Toronto City Council also approved the sale of five other single-family homes on the open market. City Council approved this approach because no community agency expressed an interest in these five properties. Council has agreed to support us in meeting our obligations by creating five new rent supplement units.

These five houses will be sold on the open market through the Multiple Listing Service. To ensure a fair sales process and make sure we get good value for money we will invite realtors to submit bids to sell the houses on our behalf through a Request for Proposals process.

Read the City of Toronto reports and minutes:

Toronto Community Housing's housing replacement strategy is part of Housing Works, our 10-year, $1.5-billion plan to transform our housing into an asset for tenants and the citizens of Toronto. It is a multi-pronged strategy that also includes building repairs, energy retrofits and community revitalization.

Toronto Community Housing 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 the City of Toronto's population. Toronto Community Housing employs 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.

Media contact

Jeffrey Ferrier, Toronto Community Housing, (416) 981-4252