By AMARACHI AMADIKE, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
The City of Toronto has launched its second annual request for proposals for the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition (MURA) program which aims to protect affordable rental housing for the city’s residents.
The program provides qualified non-profit housing providers with $21.5 million in funding and incentives to purchase at-risk private market rental housing in order to turn them into permanently-affordable non-profit housing.
Potential recipients will have until May 25 to apply for this City of Toronto funding.
“Increasing available affordable rental housing is critical to the continued success of Toronto,” said Scarborough-Rouge Park Councillor and Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie in a city news release.
“I encourage qualified non-profit housing providers, cooperatives, and community land trusts to apply for the $21.5 million in City funding and incentives available this year through the Multi-Unit Residential Acquisition Program.”
MURA funding is also extended to Indigenous housing providers as the City of Toronto continues to fulfill its commitment to truth and reconciliation. Twenty percent of the available funds will be dedicated to acquisitions made by Indigenous housing organizations.
“This is one way the city is working, with our community partners, to help protect affordable rental housing for Toronto residents,” said McKelvie.
Since it began in 2022, MURA has provided support for six housing providers who in turn have created an additional 140 low-and-moderate-income rental homes in the city.
Eligible properties for the funding include apartment buildings with no more than 60 units and multi-tenant houses (rooming houses) “where affordable rental housing is at risk of being lost”, according to a City of Toronto news release.
Apartment buildings, under the MURA Program, are eligible for up to $200,000 in acquisition and renovation funding per unit while rooming houses are eligible for up to $150,000 per dwelling room.
Although – considering Toronto’s current real estate market – MURA funding can only go so far, the program’s main goal is to prevent developers from converting low-valued property into higher-price residences as gentrification continues to make various neighbourhoods less affordable for its residents.
“In its first year, MURA has already demonstrated its capacity to make a real impact on peoples’ lives, and it will continue to support non-profit organizations to acquire properties, protecting and creating affordable housing in the City while increasing capacity in the sector,” said McKelvie.
Ontario has a goal of providing 285,000 new homes in Toronto, however, the City of Toronto’s Housing Action Plan targets securing 40,000 new affordable rental homes with 18,000 supportive homes over the next 10 years.
With the province’s plan not including any form of rent stabilization, MURA is an attempt by the City of Toronto to achieve this as it gives tenants a sense of financial stability. The homes created through MURA will be secured as affordable housing for at least 99 years.
More information on the request for proposals for MURA and details regarding a virtual information session on April 25 at 9:30 a.m. are available on the Open Requests for Proposals webpage.
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