Where we’re at now: Community Input on the Public and Community Spaces

In 2021, we shared the news that The Storefront’s location at 4040 Lawrence Avenue East had been approved by Toronto City Council to be included in the City’s Housing Now initiative. This means that The Storefront’s site will eventually be redeveloped for new rental housing, a new space for The Storefront, and other changes to the public/community spaces. The Housing Now Project Team, led by CreateTO, is working with The Storefront on a collaborative design consultation process.

Many of you have questions about the project and what it means for the community. This is where resident input comes in! Twelve KGO residents who reflect a diversity of perspectives in the community have been recruited to form a Community Design committee with CreateTO and their design consultants, to give input on the design and development of the public and community spaces on the site. As of March 2023 today, they have participated in two Community Design sessions.

At these design sessions, the 12 selected KGO residents will give input on the following topics:

We understand that accessing affordable housing is a topic that is very important to local residents. Aside from your questions and feedback about the public/community spaces you want to see as part of the Housing Now development, we have heard loud and clear that the community has important questions about the actual affordable housing units being created. This is a multi-year project in the very early stages so there will be more details, updates, and chances to ask questions as the project goes on.

The Housing Secretariat Office (the office within the City of Toronto that is responsible for affordable housing initiatives like this one) has provided some information on affordable rental housing, the application process for accessing the housing, and prioritization.

1. What is affordable rental housing according to the City?

Affordable rental housing units are allocated for low and moderate-income households. The City currently defines affordable rental housing as units where the total monthly occupancy cost (i.e. rent and utilities) are equal to or below the Average Market Rents (AMRs). AMRs are updated annually by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and can be found online. Affordable rental housing units created through Housing Now target a range of rents between 40% and 100% AMR, with project average rents of 80% AMR. Households who are eligible for these units must have a net annual income which is less than the “initial income limit”: an amount equal to four times the monthly occupancy cost for the housing unit multiplied by 12.

For example: A 2-bedroom unit rented at 80% AMR will have a monthly rent of $1,449. To be eligible for this unit, a household would need to have a net annual income that is less than $69,552 (i.e. $1,449 x 4 x 12). Affordable rental units can be made more deeply affordable with the support of project-specific federal and provincial funding, and by layering housing benefits, such as rent supplements, received by eligible households. See the following table for reference.

In 2021, City Council adopted a new definition for affordable housing that’s based on household income rather than AMR. If this is implemented, it could deepen the affordability of units.The new definition is currently in force, and the City is looking into how it can be implemented on City programs such as Housing Now. More information is available here: https://www.toronto.ca/city-government/planning-development/planning-studies-initiatives/definitions-of-affordable-housing/

2. What is the process to apply for an affordable rental housing unit in a Housing Now development?

When the building is complete, anyone interested in an affordable rental housing unit can apply through a new Centralized Affordable Rental Housing Access System. This system is currently being developed by the City and will be piloted in 2024. The new system will match tenants to affordable rentals through a chronological waitlist and random draw process. A portion of units will be filled through the waitlist and a portion will be filled by a random draw. When a unit is being turned over, the next tenant will be allocated from the waitlist only. This hybrid system allows opportunities for people from across the city to access affordable rental units and more information will be shared once it is fully developed.

3. How do I get on the list for this development, and how can I be informed when units are available?

Subscribe to the Affordable Housing Opportunities E-Updates online here: https://www.toronto.ca/community-people/community-partners/affordable-housing-partners/projects-under-construction/ to stay up to date on new affordable housing opportunities.

4. Can these units be made available only to those in this community that are in need?

The new allocation process, as approved by City Council in July 2022, does not include neighbourhood-specific prioritization. The need for affordable rental housing extends across the city and therefore everyone is given equal opportunity to apply for an affordable rental unit in any neighbourhood of their choice.

We know that you may have more questions about the process, housing, or the redevelopment, and The Storefront wants to hear from you. We are committed to identifying the right contacts in the City who are involved in these decisions and making sure your questions and comments reach them.

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