Is council’s vote to sell off 22 TCHC assets the beginning of a Toronto social housing fire sale?

Is council’s vote to sell off 22 TCHC assets the beginning of a Toronto social housing fire sale?

TCHC fire sale! (Image: Ishmael Hallin) 

A day after Mayor Rob Ford mused about selling Casa Loma, he and a large majority of councillors voted to divest city hall of a bunch of other casas—namely, 22 single-family homes currently owned by Toronto Community Housing, estimated to be worth roughly $15.7 million. The money from the sale is supposed to go toward shoring up the TCHC’s maintenance budget—which needs a heck of a lot more money than that (somewhere in the neighbourhood of $650 million)—although legal issues may prevent the sale of several of the properties, and councillors critical of the concept say the debate is far from over.

From the Toronto Star:

After debate that spanned much of Tuesday and Wednesday morning, a motion to evict the tenants and sell the houses — all in need of repair, some in upscale areas including the Beach — easily passed 33-10.

City staff recommended the sale, at the urging of the Ford administration, to free up cash for a TCHC repair backlog that stands at $600 million and growing. The estimated revenue of $15.7 million will be reduced because four of the houses are occupied by tenants with lifelong leases and can’t be sold immediately.

Despite the sharp lines drawn—and sharper words spoken—at council yesterday (we caught Frances Nunziata shouting down objections from council’s left), there appear to be the beginnings of a consensus forming. Selling city assets has already been at the heart of so many controversies in the Ford administration—see: the Waterfront Toronto debate and even the cancelling of the Fort York Bridge—so we suspect this is the start of another long fight that’s bound to touch on a lot more than just social housing before it’s over.

Great social housing sell-off underway, critics warn [Toronto Star]
Council votes to see 22 TCHC homes [Toronto Sun]
Toronto city council votes to see 22 TCHC homes [Globe and Mail]
Council votes to sell TCHC houses [CBC]