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To pay for repairs, TCHC proposes selling hundreds of buildings

Toronto Community Housing CEO Len Koroneos in April 2011.

Peter Power/The Globe and Mail/Peter Power/The Globe and Mail

Toronto's social housing agency is recommending the city sell 706 properties across the city as a way of addressing $650-million worth of repairs needed to other buildings.

The sale, expected to yield at least $336-million, would begin with 70 unoccupied units and gradually extend to 630 occupied units, home to thousands of Toronto Community Housing tenants.

TCHC is solely targeting scattered houses that stand apart from low-rise buildings and cost twice as much to maintain. On average, a stand-alone unit in the city needs $60,000 in repairs, compared to $30,000 for low-rise apartment units, according to TCHC CEO Len Koroneos. At least one house needs $175,000 worth of repairs.

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The average TCHC building is 40 years old.

"We don't have the funds to fix those," Mr. Koroneos said. "We are aware that this will inconvenience some tenants, but we have a firm commitment to minimize impacts on those tenants."

The report states that the agency would pick up moving costs for evicted tenants.

The units have a median value of $315,000, with the lowest assessed at $200,250 and the highest at over $1-million.

Both City Council and the province would have to sign off on most of the home sales, the majority of which are single-family houses.

The recommendations are contained in a report up for debate at the Oct. 21 TCHC board meeting. They amount to a marked departure from TCHC's past strategy of avoiding the creation of social housing ghettoes by integrating tenants into mixed neighbourhoods.

That model is "going out the window," said Councillor Paula Fletcher said. "It's very shortsighted."

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The sale, she said, will be devastating to hundreds of families who are part of existing neighbourhoods and must now cope with the huge uncertainty created by the planned sale of their homes and a move to segregated units. "It's a very disrespectful way to operate," she said.

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National reporter

Patrick previously worked in the Globe's Winnipeg bureau, covering the Prairies and Nunavut, and at Toronto City Hall. He is a National Magazine Award recipient and author of the book Mountie In Mukluks. More

Toronto City Hall bureau chief

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