New units, fixing old ones, rent subsidies to help those in need
Plan calls for additional $484 million annually for housing
By Kris Scheuer
(Originally written May 27/09 for Town Crier. This plan passed at council Aug. 7)
Heather Cunningham has lived in mental health facilities, shelters, detox centres and under bridges.
The formerly homeless 25-year-old is currently on the city’s affordable housing waiting list, along with 66,000 others.
Meanwhile, she’s paying full market value for an apartment in a 12-storey building in the east end. She’s been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and lives on $1,099 a month from the Ontario Disability Support Program. Her rent gobbles up $850 of that and would eat her out of house and home if not for the help of her mother, who foots half the bill.
“My mom wanted to take a year off work but can’t because she’s helping me out,” said Cunningham, who’s been on the subsidized-housing waiting list for three years. “I’d have to go to the food bank if my mom didn’t help me. I’d be in poverty.”
Cunningham’s not looking for social housing but rather a rent subsidy to lower the cost of staying in her current apartment.
She’s one of almost 250,000 people the city plans to help with its 10-year Affordable Housing Action Plan, which still needs a nod from city council. (It was approved Aug. 7)
“We are proposing to help (the) one-fifth of Toronto residents … in need of housing help,” said Sean Gadon, director of the city’s Affordable Housing Office. “Over the 10-year plan, we hope to help 50 percent of those households.” Continue reading