Toronto’s social housing agency is reviewing the proposed sale of four 1920s-era homes that face the beach just east of Kew Gardens.
Built in red brick with distinctive, two-storey verandas that look out onto Lake Ontario, the homes are among a cluster of 12 mostly vacant properties that city council listed as heritage buildings in 2010.
That listing is now holding up a council-approved plan to sell the homes on the open market as part of the Toronto Community Housing Corporation’s effort to reduce its estimated capital repairs backlog of $750 million.
“We’re still looking into some of the opportunities for the properties on those streets,” says Sinead Canavan, the TCH’s acting manager of media relations and issues management.
“They may not be listed as early as some of the other ones.”
Ward 32 councillor Mary-Margaret McMahon said while the Hubbard and Wineva homes do not have the highest ‘designated’ heritage status, city council could review and upgrade that status if major renovations were planned.
“They are heritage buildings, so there will be quite stringent restrictions on what you can do with them,” she said.
Divided into duplexes, each of which has a pair of two-bedroom suites, the waterfront homes at 4 and 6 Wineva Avenue and 5 and 7 Hubbard Avenue are among the TCH’s most valuable properties, and their sale has been discussed since at least 1999.
Canavan said the homes’ ‘listed’ status means the interiors could be renovated into a single-family design, but she said it is unclear whether exterior changes, such as a third-storey deck, could be done.
Across Ward 32, sales of another 26 single-family homes owned by TCH are going ahead as planned for 2013 and 2014. All the homes are valued above $600,000 and require repairs that will likely cost more than a fifth of their value – two of the criteria for their sale set out in a special housing report published last October.
Led by Davenport councillor Ana Bailão, that report was the latest response by the Toronto and Ontario governments to TCH’s original proposal to sell 872 of its houses to raise $222 million towards its repairs backlog.
The agency manages properties for 164,000 tenants, only 2,600 of whom live in single-family homes.
“The Working Group believes there are faster, better and more socially responsive ways to generate revenue to pay for repairs than the sale of single-family homes,” the report said.
Canavan said refinancing mortgages is another way that the TCH plans to raise revenue.
Earlier this year, the corporation announced that Infrastructure Ontario had agreed to longer, 30-year mortgages for 18 TCH properties, resulting in one-time savings that can cover about 12 per cent of its $750 million repairs backlog.
According to the TCH website, securing stable funding for social housing in Toronto has been a problem ever since it was created, in 2002. Among the 19 recommendations in Councillor Bailão’s special report are calls for the City of Toronto to lobby the federal government to adopt a national housing strategy and resume federal funding for social housing that stopped in 1999.
Further details on the planned sale of TCH’s single-family homes are expected in June, when the corporation is expected to release its latest three-year capital financing plan.