Olivia Chow, who was elected as Mayor of Toronto in a recent by-election, has outlined her plans to address the city's housing challenges. Despite lacking strong mayor powers, Chow intends to prioritize renters and advocate for their rights. She proposes establishing a Renters Action Committee to develop anti-renoviction bylaws, advocate for rent control, and review existing renter-related policies. Chow aims to expand Toronto's rent bank to assist 5,500 people annually and triple the reach of the Eviction Prevention in the Community program to support over 3,000 individuals each year. She plans to strengthen the RentSafeTO program by investing in additional staff and resources.
Chow also plans to increase the Vacant Home Tax to 3% to generate funds for affordable housing initiatives and rent supplements. She intends to address confusion about the tax, particularly among non-English speaking residents, through public education facilitators and an information hotline. Additionally, she proposes raising the Municipal Land Transfer Tax on luxury homes, with the revenue directed towards homelessness support.
To combat the housing crisis, Chow pledges to construct 25,000 rent-controlled homes on City-owned land over the next eight years, with at least 7,500 units being affordable and 2,500 designated as rent-geared-to-income. She plans to streamline the approval process and increase density along transit routes to promote affordable housing and reduce parking requirements.
Chow also recognizes the need to strengthen homelessness support in Toronto. She aims to create 1,000 rent supplements to facilitate permanent housing, establish new 24/7 respite spaces, and create a fund for services managed by community agencies and front-line workers.
Chow's proposed initiatives, including renter-focused policies, increased taxation on vacant and luxury homes, affordable housing on city-owned land, and enhanced homelessness supports, aim to address Toronto's housing challenges and provide relief to renters and those experiencing homelessness.