Open Door Affordable Housing Program, Toronto


Open Door Affordable Housing Program, Toronto

Mismatches Price Diversity Vulnerable groups Demographic/Urban growth
Policies and regulations Local policies Land Planning Governance
Financing Public funding Supply subsidies Demand subsidies

Main objectives of the project

Toronto is facing a growing housing crisis. For this reason, Open Door was set up. Launched in 2016, Open Door accelerates the construction of affordable housing by providing City financial contributions, including capital funding fees and property tax relief, fast-tracking planning approvals, and activating surplus public land.


  • 2016: Implementation


  • Toronto City Council


Continent: North America
Country/Region: Canada, Toronto


Toronto, as many of the biggest North American cities, face a housing crisis. The reason behind it are multiple, but, for sure, one of the reasons is the insufficient stock of social and affordable housing, For this reason, the Toronto City Council approved the Open Door Affordable Housing Program in 2016 to accelerate the construction of affordable homes by providing financial contributions, including capital funding, as well as fees and property tax relief. The program expedited planning approvals and utilized surplus public land, including properties owned by CreateTO, the Toronto Transit Commission, the Toronto Parking Authority, and Toronto Community Housing. The initiative aimed to deliver 5,000 new affordable rental homes and 2,000 new affordable ownership homes between 2016 and 2020.

In December 2018, Toronto City Council launched Housing Now to further enhance the supply of affordable housing. This program intends to create a mix of affordable rental, market rental, and ownership housing options for households earning between C$21,000 (€14,500) and C$52,000 (€35,800) annually. So far, 11 sites have been identified with the potential to bring forward 10,000 homes, of which 3,700 will be affordable rental units. The city council approved a C$20 (€11.51) million fund to prepare the 11 sites for marketing. This preparation includes adding temporary staff, conducting necessary environmental studies and remediation, market analyses, and planning studies.

The following principles were adopted by Toronto City Council to guide the development of new housing:

1. Develop the sites to achieve the highest possible public benefits.
2. Optimize the development of market and affordable rental housing with a mix of unit types and sizes, ensuring at least 20 percent of all units meet or exceed disabled accessibility standards.
3. Create homes affordable for a diverse range of incomes, including 'deeply affordable' homes. So, average rents across all intermediate units on each site will not exceed 80 percent of the average market rent for the city of Toronto and a minimum of 10 percent of all units will be 'deeply affordable,' rented at 40 percent of average market rent.
4. Appropriately address and accommodate existing city uses and other operations on the 11 sites. Thus, retain public ownership of the properties, prioritizing long-term land leases and engage city councillors and local communities in the planning and development of each property.

This case exemplifies who a big city can push for building rapidly its affordable housing goals, maintaining an idea on inclusion and diversity in its developments.