Case Ootes lone board member votes to sell 22 homes
City-owned housing provider to make millions
Money would be used to fix crumbling housing stock
(Written April 6 for Town Crier.)
Case Ootes, the one man board at Toronto Community Housing Corporation, voted today to sell 22 single families homes in the portfolio that could net the corporation up to $15.7 million.
Some who came out to the meeting asked Ootes to defer the decision until a full board is in place this June. But Ootes said he’s acting on recommendations of the previous board to sell these homes including beachfront property on Hubbard Boulevard that are too costly to maintain.
A staff report this issue states the net profits from the sales should be used to tackle the backlog to fix up existing community housing across the city which Ootes pegs at close to $600 million.
“I made the decision based on the fact this corporation is facing serious financial problems,” he told the media after the meeting. “There are almost 2,000 vacant units in some form of disrepair. Money is needed to repair these units.”
But selling all 22 homes, which contain 29 separate units, won’t be a cakewalk.
Currently, 15 of the 29 units are occupied by tenants with most of them paying market rent. The market rent tenants can’t be kicked out by any new owner unless they or their families plan to live in the homes.
“Most buyers do want (houses) to be vacant so it will be more difficult to sell,” said Ootes. On top of that, Toronto Community Housing made agreements with four current elderly tenants a decade ago that they could continue to rent for as long as they wished. Ootes says those agreements should not have been made, but will be honoured.
There are also seven subsidized units on this list, which the city-owned housing company needs to replace to maintain the current rent geared to income allotment in the portfolio. The report states it would cost about $2.359 million to demolish and construct seven replacement units. However, the report contemplates another option which would see rent subsidies for tenants in commercial buildings.
Former community housing board member councillor Paula Fletcher told the media she wants the 22 homes to be maintained as social housing, either directly or by selling them to another social housing provider.
“Affordable housing is a goal of the city. It should be up to council to say we wish to maintain those and find a way to transfer those to people that will run them and maintain them as a social good because that’s how they were bought (originally),” she said.
As the city is the sole shareholder of Toronto Community Housing, Ootes’ decision has to be approved by council before any sale could take place.