Key Takeaways from the 2024 City of Toronto Budget

The 2024 City of Toronto Budget commits historic new investments for affordable housing and supports for renters across the city, marking a significant departure from previous budgets focused on keeping property tax increases low and prioritizing homeowners over renters. R2HTO strongly supports the budget’s increased investments toward the preservation of affordable housing and protections for renters, which are critical to advancing the right to housing.  

In particular, we are glad to see a significant increase in funding for MURA beginning this year (funded in part through dedicated funds from the federal HAF), which will expedite the acquisition and preservation of more affordable housing across the city. We are also encouraged by increased investments toward Toronto Rent Bank and TTSP, greater staff complements for EPIC and RentSafeTO, and additional federal funding for the COHB, all of which will help ensure low-income and other vulnerable renters can remain housed.  

We commend Mayor Chow for demonstrating strong acumen around provincial and federal collaboration, securing much needed funding to meet the needs of Toronto residents. Additionally, we support the property tax rate increases, including for multi-residential properties, which will protect renters in rent-controlled units from untenable AGIs

Notwithstanding these important investments and initiatives, there are a few key areas where the 2024 budget could have gone further to realize the right to housing for renters across the city.  

Of critical concern is the lack of funding for renter support, education, and protection under the new MTH framework. This poses a significant risk of displacement and homelessness, considering that MTH’s provide some of the city’s most affordable housing to some of its most vulnerable residents. As the City prepares to roll out its new MTH framework in April, it should explore options to support renters, in addition to further engagement and education with MTH operators to discourage and mitigate potential MTH losses. 

While we support the increased investments toward other renter support programs, they fall short of Mayor Chow’s election campaign commitments, which included tripling EPIC and doubling Toronto Rent Bank funding to meet the depth of need facing renters. In fact, as noted below, EPIC received less new funding in the 2024 budget compared to the previous year, while Toronto Rent Bank received the same level of new funding. Further, while additional staff for RentSafeTO will help increase capacity for unit assessments and repairs, the program could have a much greater impact through a more robust landlord licensing system

With respect to affordable housing preservation, the Mayor previously committed $100 million annually toward an affordable housing acquisition program, whereas MURA will ultimately receive $100 million over three years. In addition to exploring options to continue scaling up MURA, the City must adequately monitor and report on its efforts toward housing preservation and development to ensure they are not contributing to the loss of existing affordable housing stock. Similarly, immediate action should be taken to expedite the launch of HART, including implementation of the Renovictions By-law and more effective monitoring and reporting on the Rental Demolition and Conversion By-law.

Year-Over-Year Comparison

While gaps remain in the 2024 City of Toronto Budget, it is worth examining some of its key housing-related commitments in relation to previous budgets, considering the significant shifts in approach toward taxation and spending.

 2023 2024  YoY $ YoY % 
MTH +$3.5 million1 +$2 million2 -$1.5 million  -43% 
MURA No new $ +$41 million +$41 million  +100% 
EPIC +$1.1 million +0.9 million -$0.2 million  -18% 
Toronto Rent Bank +$1 million +$1 million No change  No change 
TTSP No new $ +$0.3 million +$0.3 million  +100% 
RentSafeTO +$0.9 million +$0.9 million No change  No change 
Residential tax rate increase3 Multi-res. tax rate increase4 7% 4.25% 9.5% 3.5% – +2.5% -0.75% 

The 2024 budget marks a significant increase in housing-related investments compared to the previous year, with the additional $41 million for MURA comprising the vast majority of new and enhanced housing-related funding. While the 2024 budget also invests more toward TTSP, interestingly, there was a decrease in overall new spending for the MTH framework and EPIC, while new funding levels remained the same for RentSafeTO and Toronto Rent Bank compared to 2023, as noted above. Moreover, all MTH funding to date has been dedicated toward planning, licensing, enforcement, renovations, and repairs, with no funding allotted for renters. 

Little progress was made in the 2024 budget to advance the launch of HART and implement the Renovictions By-law, following the introduction of those initiatives in the 2023 budget, aimed at supporting renters who have been evicted or are at risk of eviction. However, the residential tax rate continued to increase in the 2024 budget to adequately fund urgently needed city programs and services, while the multi-residential rate decreased compared to the 2023 budget, with a particular focus on protecting renters from AGIs

Considering the concerning rate of affordable housing loss across the city, it is encouraging to see the 2024 budget prioritize the preservation of existing affordable housing through partnerships with the non-profit and Indigenous housing sectors. However, to meaningfully advance the right to housing and define itself in contrast to the previous administration, the new administration under Mayor Chow must also ensure that adequate supports are in place to keep renters housed affordably and sustainably. 

What’s included in Toronto City Council’s 2023 budget

On February 15, the City of Toronto passed its 2023 budget. The Right to Housing Toronto (R2HTO) submitted our recommendations to the Budget Committee in January, emphasizing the need for the City to take a rights-based approach by ensuring a participatory process, and that the maximum of available resources are being made available, prioritizing those who need it the most. 

Here are some of the positives and negatives of what has been committed to this year in the budget.  

  • First, we are disappointed that the budget process did not take a rights-based approach. Funds were allocated to various programs, and then the leftover funds were used to fund critical initiatives in the city to house people. A rights-based approach would have prioritized the needs of those most impacted by the affordable and adequate housing crisis, and allocated the maximum available resources for initiatives that can house all Torontonians.  
  • Councillor Carroll’s proposal to allocate $800K to open an additional 24/7 warming centre until April 15 passed. Currently, with no 24/7 warming centres, this is a positive step that will support 50 people for 2-months. However, Councillor Bravo’s proposal to allocate $900K for 24/7 warming centres that would be provided in partnership with non-profit community partners did not pass. One 24/7 warming centre for 2-months is not enough to meet the needs of unhoused people.  
  • Councillor Carroll’s proposal to expand the proposed budget of $6.2 million for the Rent Bank by $1 million passed, which will help more tenants to pay their rent arrears and stabilize their housing passed.  
  • RentSafeTO will have $848K to hire 8 new full-time staff thanks to Councillor Matlow’s motion.  
  • Budget commitments will also support Housing Secretariat’s office to develop a renovictions bylaw, increase the supply of affordable & supportive housing for Indigenous and Black communities, and more. However, proposal by Councillor Matlow to expand the Tenant Support Program to support the growing number of tenants dealing with renovictions failed.  
  • Budget commitments for ML&S department will also support the implementation of multi-tenant houses licensing program and the enforcement of short-term rentals.   
  • Toronto also approved $882K to allocate to establishing the Housing Commissioner role with the Ombudsman’s office.  
  • The budget also commits funds to support the City Planning department in the creation of new housing under the EHON program and other revitalization projects. 

Effie Vlachoyannacos, Maytree

Profile photo of Effie Vlachoyannacos from Maytree who says, "Everyone has the right to live in a home that enables them to live healthy, happy, and thriving lives."
What does the right to housing mean to you?

Everyone has the right to live in a home that enables them to live healthy, happy, and thriving lives. However, far too many in this prosperous city – particularly Indigenous, Black, and other people of colour (BIPOC), as well as people with disabilities and those who are unhoused – are kept out of particular housing and neighbourhoods because they are told implicitly (and explicitly) that they don’t fit in.

Recognizing the human right to housing creates a new standard for housing planning, programs, and services that takes action on the idea of “deserving” versus “undeserving.” It places equity at the centre and prioritizes people who often face the greatest challenges in accessing adequate housing. The human right to housing not only means that everyone can live in a home in good repair that they can afford, but it also ensures that it is accessible, culturally appropriate, and located in communities that have the services and supports that people need to live. It ensures that there are tailored housing options available for people who are often marginalized by our housing systems and can access the housing they need, including BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+ youth, women fleeing domestic violence, and people with disabilities.

What is the #1 thing that Toronto City Council must do to advance the right to housing this year?

The City of Toronto has taken the first step in advancing the human right to housing by committing to a rights-based ten-year housing and homelessness plan. It now needs to establish the necessary infrastructure to fulfill this commitment. City policy-makers will need to embed the right to housing in their policies, procedures, and processes, and make housing decisions based on human rights principles, not the opportunities or constraints of the political moment. It will require the active and ongoing engagement of people and communities that are disproportionately affected by poverty, including BIPOC, 2SLGBTQ+ people, women, people with disabilities, seniors, newcomers, refugee claimants, and precarious migrants. Ultimately, it will require independent accountability mechanisms that monitor, enforce, and support the ongoing implementation of the human right to housing.

Alissa Klingbaum, WomanACT

Alissa Klingbaum from WomanACT says "The right to housing means that means that everyone should have access to a home that is not only safe, but offers dignity, wellbeing, and social inclusion."

What does the right to housing mean to you?    

Home is not always a safe place. For women experiencing violence, we often consider housing needs to be met when survivors are free from violence. The right to housing represents an obligation and an opportunity to expand this idea. It means that everyone should have access to a home that is not only safe, but offers dignity, wellbeing, and social inclusion. The right to housing gives us the tools to understand why many of our existing housing options are not adequate. If they are not affordable, not secure, or do not allow access to employment and amenities, then they are not meeting the basic standard of housing that our governments have recognized. 

What is the #1 thing that Toronto City Council must do to advance the right to housing this year? 

To advance the right to housing, the City must expand the housing options it provides for women experiencing violence at home. Current approaches that expect survivors to leave home to reach safety cause profound disruptions to women’s lives and violate their right to housing. When survivors are forced to relocate to precarious housing, like shelters or staying with family or friends, it exacerbates their economic insecurity and often leads to homelessness or returning to a violent situation. 

Safe at Home programs are an evidence-based approach to address these issues. Using a combination of legal orders, home security measures, and wraparound support services, they enable women leaving violence to remain in their home with the perpetrator removed, or to move directly to independent housing. These programs have been widely implemented in other countries, where they have been found to improve safety and wellbeing, prevent homelessness, and reduce incidents of intimate partner violence. City investments in Safe at Home programs would be an important step forward in realizing survivors’ right to housing. 

Phelisa Talbot, Toronto ACORN Member

A woman in a red shirt is smiling. Her name is Phelisa Talbot, member of Toronto ACORN. She is quoted as saying "Housing is health, and everyone has the right to live comfortably."
What does the right to housing mean to you?

Two things come to mind when I think of the right to housing. Firstly, it means being able to live in a home that is free from pest infestations, paint cracking off the walls, drafty windows, and old broken down appliances. Secondly, it means having access to housing that is actually affordable for low- to moderate-income earners. Nobody should pay more than 30% of their income on shelter – yet, it takes me an entire month to be able to afford my rent.

Many of us are struggling to get by or are forced to live in conditions that put our health at risk. Housing is health, and everyone has the right to live comfortably. That’s why I joined ACORN in the first place, so I can fight to make the world a better place for everyone.

What is the #1 thing that Toronto City Council must do to advance the right to housing next year?

Toronto City Council needs to listen to the people who elect them. Too often low- and moderate-income families are pushed to the side for the rich. The City needs to enforce their own property standards and hold landlords accountable. For many years, ACORN has been fighting for landlord licensing, and we finally won the creation of RentSafeTO five years ago.

It’s been a struggle ever since then to get things that we originally demanded. Over 88% of tenants in Toronto wanted color-coded signs on their building that would act like a building rating system – just like DineSafe – with signs that clearly display the building’s rating and advertise 311 for any tenant issues. But Council voted against that two years ago.

There’s an important vote coming up in March to reverse this and we’ll be fighting to finally improve this program. Tenants deserve healthy and safe housing!

The main thing with Toronto City Council: less talk, more action!

Mahdiba Chowdhury – Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA)

A quote from Mahdiba Chowdhury from Council of Agencies Serving South Asians (CASSA). The quote reads "A right to housing means that the financial cost of housing does not threaten the attainability of other fundamental rights, needs, and desires."

What does the right to housing mean to you?

Every generation seems to have stories of trying to overcome the struggles in making a first home purchase. But young Canadian adults like myself are shouldering a particularly heavy burden from the skyrocketing house prices and tighter regulations. The reality is that young adults are having to stay in school longer for better paying jobs and pay off higher student loan debts, only to have their full-time earnings fall flat relative to the rising inflation. As a result, the housing crisis is causing young adults to put off important milestones such as moving out of their parents’ homes, living in their own homes, and starting their own families. Therefore, a right to housing means that the financial cost of housing does not threaten the attainability of other fundamental rights, needs, and desires.

What is the #1 thing that Toronto City Council must do to advance the right to housing next year?

Prior to the pandemic, full-time earnings were not in line with rising inflation. But when COVID-19 hit, many young adults fell to the bottom of the financial ladder and were facing immediate threats to housing security. The City must work with politicians and policymakers to protect the security of tenure and prevent eviction by providing financial support and preventing accumulated debts. In particular, Toronto’s Rent Bank program should focus on broadening the eligibility criteria for tenants who don’t currently qualify and expanding funds as grants and not loans. Ultimately, if politicians and policymakers are not willing to adjust or assist with housing prices to ensure they are in line with what people earn, housing dreams will continue to be out of reach for young adults.

Alyssa Brierley – Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation

A photo of a woman smiling. Her name is Alyssa Brierley from the Centre for Equality Rights in Accommodation. The quoted text reads: The time is now to come together – those impacted by the housing crisis, advocates, and decision-makers – to solve our growing housing problems and to claim housing as a human right."
What does the right to housing mean to you?

Housing is a human right, and every person should have a place to call home where they are able to live with dignity and contribute to the decision-making processes of the community that they are part of. Housing must be safe, adequate, accessible, and affordable to all, and Canada has committed to advance the right to housing. Yet, too many people are unable to access housing that’s affordable, well-maintained and safe. The time is now to come together – those impacted by the housing crisis, advocates, and decision-makers – to solve our growing housing problems and to claim housing as a human right.

What is the #1 thing that Toronto City Council must do to advance the right to housing next year?

The City of Toronto committed to a rights-based 10-year housing plan. The City must engage with impacted communities, stakeholders, and communities across the city on various issues that will work toward achieving its goal to realize the right to housing for all. It must introduce housing policies that will preserve the affordable housing we already have, and to make these homes safe and habitable places to live. It must also work toward increasing the affordable housing stock for people with low to moderate incomes, and increasing non-profit housing solutions to curb the growing financialization of housing. These policies must be planned, developed, and executed through open, transparent, and participatory processes. We need the City of Toronto to commit to these solutions now more than ever as Toronto’s housing situation has worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic, and further exposed the increasing inequities in our communities.

David Meyers – Centre for Independent Living in Toronto

A quote from David Meyers, Centre for Independent Living in Toronto: " The right to housing means that governments must not violate our human rights by investing public dollars in housing that discriminates against people with disabilities."

What does the right to housing mean to you?

For me, the right to housing means that people across Canada have full access to affordable and accessible housing that meets their needs, as a protected human right, and adequately funded by all levels of government.

Twenty-two percent of Canadians have a disability. As a disability advocate, the right to housing also means that our governments do not violate our human rights codes and international agreements by investing public dollars in housing that discriminates against people with disabilities. Municipalities like Toronto would not be funding multi-unit housing developments in which 80% of homes are not built to universal design standards, preventing people of all abilities to safely live and age in place. Yet they are, as there is still no law in Canada requiring that housing be accessible. Meanwhile, most of Toronto’s over 400,000 residents with disabilities are disproportionately poor and live in public or private rental homes that are mostly inaccessible and deeply unaffordable.

What is the #1 thing that Toronto City Council must do to advance the right to housing next year?

Toronto City Council must vote for a much higher percentage of universal design (UD) units than the 20% percent outlined in its 2020-2030 housing plan. With our senior population set to double by 2041, 20% simply kicks housing accessibility further down the road.

Actions already recommended by disability stakeholders, such as the Accessible Housing Network, include the City setting a high minimum accessible unit standard, creating incentives that financially reward developer bids that exceed it, and favoring universal design excellence and innovation. The City must also actively engage with other jurisdictions that are proving that it is cost effective to build multi-unit housing with high UD standards. Engaging meaningfully with disability stakeholders with accessibility expertise is critical to inclusive solutions, and establishing the new Accessible Housing Working Group as part of the City’s Housing Secretariat is a small step among giant steps yet to take.

Regini David – West Scarborough Community Legal Services

An image of Regini David, from West Scarborough Community Legal Services. The image includes the following quote: "The right to housing means that people should have access to affordable, safe homes and live freely in their community without any discrimination."

What does the right to housing mean to you?

The right to housing means that people should have access to affordable, safe homes and live freely in their community without any discrimination. Policies and regulations should be designed by using a human rights lens to treat all tenants equally. Housing policies from the municipal, provincial and federal levels should help to prevent eviction and provide support to the most vulnerable tenants to prevent homelessness and reduce poverty.

What is the #1 thing that Toronto City Council must do to advance the right to housing this year?

The City must legalize Multi-Tenant Housing (rooming houses) and protect all tenants equally throughout the city.

Toronto has an affordable housing crisis; hidden homelessness and rooming houses are increasing in our neighbourhoods and across the city. We need affordable rooms in every part of the city, and the people who live in rooms outside of the downtown core deserve the same legal protections as their downtown counterparts, where rooming houses are legal.

It is a good step that the City has been working on its HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. However, this housing plan will take time to implement. It has not addressed the immediate needs of vulnerable tenants, and many of the housing projects are not deeply affordable for low-income individuals. The City should not only create more deeply affordable homes; it should preserve the deeply affordable homes that already exist to address the current needs and realities of low-income individuals and to prevent homelessness. The City has heard from the community on the importance of legalizing multi-tenant houses as this matter has gone through multiple studies and consultations in 2013, 2015, 2017, 2020 and 2021.

It is time for the City to address and prioritize the concerns of unsafe and unprotected conditions that lower income tenants are living in. All tenants should have access to affordable homes and to freely choose to live near their community, temples, churches and mosques without any barriers. In addition, decision-makers should recognize privilege and power to balance the needs of all when working with residents and in their projects.

Toronto City Council finally votes for Inclusionary Zoning

Following nearly three years of consultations, Toronto City Council has voted for the adoption of an Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy. This means that new housing developments near major transit areas in Toronto will be required to have a specific percentage of affordable units, whether it be condominiums or rental buildings. It is a welcome decision to see Toronto join nearly 500 other North American municipalities in adopting IZ.

Toronto’s IZ is mandatory which demonstrates the commitment to ensuring that developers participate in making our city more affordable for residents. We are glad to see that the period of affordability has been extended to 99 years, essentially making the housing developed affordable for many years to come. The definition of affordability is also based on a household’s income, ensuring that they do not spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

While we applaud the passing of IZ in Toronto, we want to acknowledge that this policy could have been bolder. The policy passed requires a much lower set-aside rate and a slower phase-in period than what some studies had shown to be feasible. What this means for our residents is the loss of an opportunity to build a higher number of affordable housing our residents need.

We hope that by passing IZ, City Council will now have the policy tool it needs to build more affordable homes and to review this policy in a timely manner so it becomes stronger and more effective in increasing affordable housing choices. We also hope that the integrity of the policy will be upheld over the long haul, where such reviews will be grounded in a rights-based framework, similar to that recognized in the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan.