affordable housing toronto

City of Toronto to decide whether Kensington Market residences stay affordable

Though rent prices in Toronto have been tumbling over the course of the health crisis, at an average of $1,877 per month for all property types across the city, it's still far from an affordable place to live for people of average means, whether they're renting or buying.

Some neighbourhoods have managed to keep housing somewhat cheaper than others, whether it's because they're still up-and-coming, because new construction and expansion is minimal or because of affordable housing projects.

In this latter category is, potentially, one residential building in Kensington Market, which a local non-profit trust aims to purchase with the help of the city to keep rents low.

The Kensington Market Community Land Trust has the goal of protecting the diversity of the eclectic and historic neighbourhood by working with various groups to acquire local land for the benefit of the community.

Its latest interest is in 54-56 Kensington Ave., a 13-unit building that has recently come up for sale, and in which some residents pay only $700 in rent — which would almost surely end if it was sold to a developer who planned to renovate or raze the structure.

"Kensington Market is facing increased pressure that endangers the very thing that makes it what it is," Ward 11 University-Rosedale Councillor Mike Layton, an advocate for such endeavours, says on the Friends of Kensington Market website.

Layton names development pressures, increasing rents, and the loss of the street-market culture of the neighbourhood as a few of the greatest concerns.

"In this shifting landscape, we're working hard with the Kensington community to protect the area and ensure that it will continue to grow and change in the unique, locally-driven way."

It is Layton who is behind a motion soon going to council that would see the city give $3 million toward helping the trust buy the building, which would then be able to serve as designated affordable housing for the next 99 years to come or more and help preserve it and the neighbourhood from potential develpment and gentrification.

It would also mean that current tenants could afford to stay.

The trust hopes to be able to purchase the building in May if all goes well and the city agrees to come aboard as partners in the purchase. We'll find out whether or not that happens next week. 

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