Wait times not to be considered for Danforth seniors residence

Seniors’ wait time for backlogged subsidized housing will not count toward a space in the affordable seniors’ residence in the Danforth Baptist Church redevelopment, officials say.

That information came out in answer to questions from the community at an online public consultation on July 6.

One attendee at the meeting said they have been on the wait list for 12 years, according to a question read by Eunice Mamic, a staffer at Woodgreen Community Services, the agency in charge of managing the planned affordable living units on 60 Bowden St.

But WoodGreen said seniors experiencing homelessness are the priority for housing spaces in the development.

“As you know, WoodGreen helps those in the greatest need, and we believe that affordability is top of mind in the City of Toronto,” said Darlene Cook, the agency’s director of housing development.

The public roundtable on July 6 broke down several aspects of the church’s redevelopment and included speakers from WoodGreen, mcCallumSather, and the city, as well as Toronto-Danforth MP Julie Dabrusin.

Many consultation attendees expressed support for the project.

Danforth Church development messages of support
COMMUNITY BACKING: Numerous messages of support were shown during the online public meeting.

Other inquiries during the session expressed residents’ concerns about building height, traffic, and shadow impact.

Several questions focused on the application processes and waitlists to access housing in the new development.

“Through the federal Reaching Home initiative funding, all units must be filled with people experiencing or at risk of homelessness,” said Lindsy Allan, program officer at the city’s Coordinated Access to Housing and Support.

Reaching Home aims to reduce homelessness by investing in infrastructure building or repair. This community-based program supports the goals and provides funding to the National Housing Strategy’s agency, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Other than being over 59 years old, seniors’ eligibility requirements include having status in Canada and meeting income requirements, such as not owing a balance to another housing provider, Allan said.

Rent held to thirty per cent of income

City representatives provided more detail about the affordability of the new rental units in the church.

“Households won’t pay more than 30 per cent of their income on rent, said Aviva Levy, a policy consultant at the city’s housing secretariat. If the applicant receives social assistance, like Ontario Works or the Ontario Disability Support Program, they would pay the maximum portion of allowance destined to housing expenses.

To access this housing opportunity, Coordinated Access looks at a “real-time binding list of people experiencing homelessness in Toronto,” according to Allan.

This program doesn’t use a waitlist system. This process is separate from the city’s centralized waitlist for the Rent-Geared-to-Income subsidy.

Residents voiced questions

One resident asked why WoodGreen did not consider a taller structure to create more housing for seniors, comparing the church’s redevelopment to the Platform Condos, currently under construction near Danforth and Greenwood avenues.

The answer given was that, according to a city bylaw, the church’s width allows for a maximum building height of 24 metres.

One way to bring much needed housing in a short time frame is “working to the approvals process as quickly as we can,” said Nolan Cipriano, a senior architect at mcCallumSather. He also said that working around plan amendments or full rezoning would save “years from the process.”

Other queries referred to mobility and on-street concerns.

In the pre-planning phase, no additional shadows — other than the church’s — will be cast onto Danforth Avenue.

No new parking spots are to be  created, but the building will include bicycle and scooter stands.

Danforth Church back door
BACK DOOR: Southern entrance of the old church on Bowden Street is part of the building to be replaced in the redevelopment. (Rodrigo Huerta Aguirre/Streeter)