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FORUM: A victory for affordable housing in Kensington (Apr. 2021)

May 12th, 2021 · No Comments

A model for protecting housing security

By Mike Layton

Homelessness in Toronto and our neighbours living in encampments have been top of mind for many of you throughout the pandemic. It continues to be clear that all levels of government need to do more to fund and create housing, and it needs to be done faster. Our ultimate goal must be to ensure we have housing for everyone and to provide support for those who need it so they can stay healthy.

In Toronto’s current real estate market, affordable multi-unit rental buildings are rapidly being converted into expensive rentals, or demolished to make way for new condominium development. 

There is a critical need to permanently protect the affordability of existing rental housing across the city, and partnerships with the non-profit housing sector provide a viable pathway towards doing so. 

As councillor, it has been one of my highest priorities to build affordable and supportive housing through every means available to me. 

Recently, advocacy efforts led to an incredible affordable housing win for University-Rosedale that I am excited to see come to fruition and I want to share with you.

Two years ago, residents of 54-56 Kensington Ave. began receiving illegal eviction notices. 

The property at 54-56 Kensington Ave. is an existing mixed-use property with twelve dwelling units and five retail units at grade. Ten of the twelve units are currently occupied. 

I knocked on doors in the community, and together we helped to ensure those tenants were made aware of their rights and resisted the attempts of the landlord to make them move.

Through hard work and determination, the Kensington Market Community Land Trust was founded with the intention to acquire property to protect our housing supply and put together a plan to buy this building. 

This meant that these existing tenants would not lose their affordable housing, and I worked with the land trust to help secure the additional necessary funding to put this acquisition over the top.

Officially, the city successfully helped the Kensington Market Community Land Trust to protect and create 100% affordable housing at 54-56 Kensington Ave. 

I brought forward a motion recommending that city council direct staff to provide $3,000,000 in funding from development charges to the Kensington Market Community Land Trust so they could acquire, renovate, and operate the property. 

The motion passed at council in April and now the property will maintain its 12 units as affordable rental housing for the next 99 years. 

This is the culmination of years of work and it started with the tenants standing their ground. 

It is clear that gentrification and real estate speculation is taking housing security from our city, but this story is proof that we can fight for creative solutions when working together. 

I hope to see models like this repeated throughout the city. 

While it is not always going to be resolved favourably in this way, working together, we have shown we can still make a difference.

I will not stop working for housing to be treated as a human right, and for steps toward housing people across our ward and the city. 

I will continue to fight tirelessly for more affordable housing.

As always, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with my office with your questions or concerns at Councillor_Layton@toronto.ca.

Mike Layton is the city councillor for Ward 11, University—Rosedale.

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Tags: Annex · Opinion