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Keesmaat promises to build more affordable housing if elected Toronto mayor

Last Updated Aug 7, 2018 at 1:51 pm EDT

Toronto’s former chief city planner says more needs to be done to fight the rental crunch and is promising to build 100,000 more affordable units if she’s elected mayor.

In her first official platform announcement since entering the mayoral race, Jennifer Keesmaat said Tuesday that the city needs to be more bold when it comes to the issue and pledged to have more “high quality” affordable housing built within the next 10 years.

“That’s high quality housing for young people, for families, also for seniors, for the people over the course of their entire lifetime,” Keesmaat said at the Charles Hastings Co-op on Elm Street.

Keesmaat said her plan would also see more city-owned lands unlocked for affordable housing, and the use of federal funds to keep those rentals affordable.

She said nearly half of all Torontonians are renters, and questioned whether housing has improved under during the tenure of Mayor John Tory.

“In the last four years under John Tory, has housing affordability gotten better for you and your family or has it gotten worse?” Keesmaat questioned.

In a release, her campaign team pointed out that an estimated 250,000 Torontonians can barely make their monthly rent. Also, almost half are spending more than 30 per cent of their household income on rent.

Meanwhile, a statement from Tory’s team states that he is the “only candidate with a record of building affordable housing.”

“In John Tory’s four years as mayor, he has led city council in approving nearly 4,000 affordable housing units,” the statement reads.

“Past administrations had previously set a target of approving 1,000 units of affordable housing per year but only since Tory took office has the city started meeting and even exceeding those targets.”

Keesmaat said she will unveil more planks of her housing platform at a later date.