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Council votes to sell 55 of TCHC's single-family houses

Front view of the house located on on 44 Maclean Ave., owned by Toronto Housing Corportation, Toronto March 17, 2011

Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail./Fernando Morales/The Globe and Mail.

Toronto's social housing agency has the green light from Toronto city council to put 55 single-family homes on the market and use the profits to whittle away its massive $750-million repair backlog.

The sale represents a compromise on the highly contentious housing file that will keep 90 per cent of standalone homes owned by Toronto Community Housing Corp. in the city's affordable housing stock. It is part of a broader housing plan developed by a working group led by Councillor Ana Bailao, endorsed Tuesday by council in a 38-5 vote.

Mayor Rob Ford, who pushed to put all 619 of TCHC's remaining single-family homes on the market, supported the plan, but made it clear he does not feel it goes far enough.

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"This is a good beginning, but we have a long, long ways to go," Mr. Ford told council.

Mr. Ford makes a habit of dropping in on residents at TCHC properties and characterized the living conditions he and councillors find there as "inhumane."

"I know it tears on our heart strings, the conditions we see some of these people living in," he said.

"Let's get these houses sold," he urged council. "Hopefully we can sell more, get some more money and get all of Toronto Community Housing living in the kind of conditions we all want them to live in. We don't want holes in the wall. We don't want ceilings caving in. We have seen it all."

Ms. Bailao said it was important to get a strong endorsement from council in order to send a clear message to Queen's Park. The province must still give its approval to the sale, which is not expected to take place until 2014. That timing is required, she said, in order to find homes for residents now living in some of the affected homes.

Earlier this year, council agreed to sell 56 vacant houses, leaving the fate of the remaining TCHC single-family homes to Ms. Bailao's committee, created when it became clear the mayor did not have council's support for a mass sale of standalone units.

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