Millions to fix up social housing

$220 million will be spent on repairs, upgrades
By Kris Scheuer
(Written Dec. 1 for Town Crier.)

Workers strip old bathroom tiles from a Toronto Community Housing unit during a recent renovation. Francis Crescia/Town Crier file photo.

Toronto social and affordable housing complexes are getting a $220 million facelift over the next two years.
The province and feds are pumping this cash into renovations and retrofits which means everything from new toilets, lighting and fridges to repairs of decks, garages and elevators for thousands of Toronto tenants.
“It certainly helps (to reduce) the state of good repair backlog and helps buildings stay in good repair,” says Glenn Courtney, city manager of social housing administration. “And it provides better living conditions for tenants in these buildings.”
During the first phase, between now and March 2010, the city will spend $98.5 million for 1,217 projects.
The money is spread out among 139 Toronto housing providers but the lion’s share of this cash, $68.3 million is going to the city’s Toronto Community Housing.The funds are certainly welcome as Toronto Community Housing inherited a state of good repair backlog of $300 million almost a decade ago when the province downloaded social housing to the municipalities.
It has spent $630 million on fixing its buildings since 2002, but still needs to spend another $950 million in the next decade to keep existing properties in a state of good repair, said Community Housing spokesperson Kyle Rooks.
“(This is) very welcome news for our tenants who have been lobbying for this for so long, many of whom have been having to live in less than acceptable conditions,” Rooks said. “With the stimulus funding, we’re expanding our Unit Refurbishment Program which renovates kitchens and bathrooms for high need units.”
From January through the end of October, community housing replaced 2,339 kitchens and installed 1,655 bathrooms. Between now and the end of March, another 21 buildings will get renovations.
Councillor Janet Davis is pleased the province is stepping up with some cash to fix these properties.
“When the province downloaded social housing, they never gave money to maintain it. This is a welcome investment,” said Davis, chair of the city’s Community Development and Recreation Committee.
A city report on this funding was approved at city council Dec. 1 and lists dozens of projects in every ward across Toronto.


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