Yesterday, as part of the City’s Housing Action Plan, City Council voted in favour of legalizing multi-tenant housing (MTH) also known as rooming houses across the City of Toronto. This is a huge victory for our city and will help some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. I have been a long-time advocate for legalization of this critical form of affordable housing which provides single-room, deeply affordable accommodation to diverse communities including students, seniors, new immigrants and residents with low to moderate incomes. There are so many people in the city who have worked so hard for this day, including tenants, housing activists, community members and city staff. We have a dire shortage of safe affordable housing in our city. Legalization of rooming houses means this type of housing will undergo annual inspections and safety standards. In Parkdale, a City ‘pilot project’ has already legalized multi-tenant houses through a rezoning and licensing process that included notification and a public consultation process. We have seen how legalizing multi-tenant housing has benefitted both tenant and the community in Parkdale – High Park. Legalization across the City is a great achievement that we should all be proud of.
The text of Mr Perks statement on this issue, auto generated from the video on YouTube.
33 years ago 10 men died at uh in a rooming house fire I called the rooming house was called the Rupert Hotel there was no mechanism at that time to inspect and secure and legalize rooming houses in a meaningful way and out of that came something called the Rupert Hotel coalition and over the course of those three decades they have people from that Coalition and activists right across the city have fought and fought and fought to say we cannot gate certain parts of the city and say no one with a low income is allowed to live there as a result of their work the fire code right across the province of Ontario was changed so that we could accommodate this kind of housing the former city of Toronto found a way to legalize rooming houses former city of Etobicoke found a way to do it in some narrow Parts the former city of York found a way to do it in part of York but the battle continued and and I’ll be honest with you I have tried 12 times 12 times to get to this vote over the course of the last 14 years and I cannot tell you on behalf of every activist every tenant who has had the courage to come forward and say my living conditions are intolerable even though they risk being evicted every every lawyer at one of the many legal clinics who have stood up for those tenants everyone who has fought for years and years and years and our professional staff in the city of Toronto who have been recommending to this Council for well over a decade that we do this so many hands have worked together to lift us up to the point where we are now I think about to legalize rooming houses in the city of Toronto one of the things though that I there’s an impression that I want to correct which is that somehow this debate has been a downtown versus the suburbs debate that’s absolutely not the case listen think back to the remarks that councilor McKelvey made councilor McKelvey said I ran for public office in Scarborough saying that I would do everything in my power to legalize rooming houses in this term three new members of council ran in Suburban Wards saying I will legalize rooming houses councilor Morley councilor Myers and counselor Chang it has not been a downtown versus Suburban issue it’s been an issue about whether or not people have the courage to run to make our housing system better and we have over the last two terms seen those people be successful and that is the only reason that we are going to succeed in passing this now the work of activists the work of tenants and the work of people brave enough to run for office saying I believe that everyone should have the right to live in every neighborhood it’s a remarkable step forward and I hope that we continue that momentum the plan that we have today for the rest of the housing system relies heavily heavily on the idea that the private Market will solve our housing crisis and we know for a fact that it won’t you heard me ask questions of City staff saying that no the private Market will not do that that is many of half of torontonians will never get their housing need met if we rely exclusively on the private Market to do it we need the second part of this plan and we need to do it in partnership with other governments saying that like successful cities like Vienna like Stockholm like Berlin like Glasgow we need public investment if we are going to House people the same way we need public investment if we’re going to have Health Care thank you thank you