Author of the article:
Paul Barker • Special to Postmedia Network
Publishing date: Jun 03, 2022
Consortium aims to provide affordable housing for famiilies with low to moderate incomes
A 3.5-acre site at the corner of Black Creek Dr. and Lawrence Ave. W. is set to change not only a neighbourhood, but the lives of many people.
Plans call for a consortium that includes Spotlight Development Inc. as well as not-for-profit agencies Habitat for Humanity, WoodGreen Community Services, the BlackNorth Initiative and Trillium Housing, to construct a four-tower complex that will accommodate an estimated 1,470 residential units.
Currently the location of a strip plaza and parking lot, the vision, organizers say, include the following targets: 10 per cent dedicated to housing for Black Canadians, 10 per cent to Indigenous Canadians, 10 per cent to Habitat for Humanity, 10 per cent to Trillium Housing and 15 per cent to Woodgreen.
The remaining 45 per cent of units could end up being part of a hybrid mix once the site plan is approved, which would involve some units being subsidized and others being sold for a profit.
Any profits would then be used to cover the cost of a subsidized unit as well as an assortment of community services.
“Our proposal prioritizes affordable housing in a neighbourhood that has lower than average incomes in the city of Toronto, and where 56 per cent of residents live in rental apartments,” said Sherry Larjani, president of Spotlight. “Through this development, we are prioritizing inclusivity and diversity that can be sustainable for the long term.”
In April, the group submitted plans to the city for the four mixed-use towers that will contain 35,866 sq. ft. for essential retail and 36,959 sq. ft. of outdoor community amenities that will include a non-profit daycare and community gardens.
Ene Underwood, the CEO of Habitat for Humanity GTA described the “vision for the new development as “bold, courageous and generous.
“Over the last two years, affordability has gotten further away from Canadians seeking to purchase a home. Through this new partnership, we can help more families lay down roots, experience the stability of owning their own homes, and transition from making rent payments to building equity.”
The group said in a release that the goal is to provide as much affordable housing as possible for rental and ownership.
In terms of how long it will take for the project to get underway, Larjani said she is hopeful for approval faster than it takes for “fully-for profit” projects to be approved.
She has also formed a new non-profit called Spotlight Affordable Ventures, which “will continue to prioritize affordable housing options and purpose-built rental opportunities in future projects.”
According to the release, part of the project “aims to provide housing for families with low to moderate incomes that fall below $75,000 annually.
“With the goal of providing as much affordable housing as possible for rental and ownership, this vision is a stark difference to what is typically offered in the housing development sector across the city.”
There is, said Larjani, “education that needs to happen” about how best to accommodate what she described as the “missing middle.”
That target group could be a couple who combined might earn upwards of $100,000 but at the moment would not qualify for a mortgage.
“They are working, they are earning the money, but today they are still not going to be able to become homeowners,” said Larjani. “We will help them get there.”