FACT: The 389 Church St. rental housing building is not new housing; it is an old TCHC building that has been recently renovated. The renovation represents a net loss of 130 rooms.
389 Church Street is a Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) building that could accommodate 274 people in 66 units of shared accommodation.1 In 2015, the City passed a plan to renovate and “modernize” the building.2 The newly renovated building can house a total of 142 people in 11 bachelor, 87 1-bedroom, and 22 2-bedroom units,3 which is 130 fewer people than before the renovation. These 120 units of supportive housing will be counted towards the City’s target of creating 18,000 units of supportive housing, but the lost 130 affordable rooms will not be added to the City’s target of an additional 40,000 units of affordable housing, illustrating how the city continues to lose affordable housing faster than it is being created.4
FACT: “Gender diverse people” are not “women.”
The City’s press release announcing the opening of 389 Church St. simultaneously says all of the 120 units are for “women” and that residents in the building will be “women, [and] gender diverse people.” The press release’s headline collapses gender-diverse people into the category of “women,” denying the legitimacy of gender-diverse peoples’ identities and, potentially foreclosing their feelings of or actual safety and acceptance in the building.
FACT: 389 Church Street’s 142 rooms made up 23% of the 620 additional spaces the City said it would be providing this winter to shelter people who are homeless. However, many of these spaces won’t be available this winter and many of these spaces won’t be available to people who are homeless.
The City is essentially counting this housing twice. It counted the 142 rooms available in this renovated building as some of the 620 extra spaces that the City would open during the winter to accommodate people who are homeless and in need of shelter, effectively classifying the rooms as additional shelter system capacity and using them to meet winter shelter system capacity targets.5 And now the same rooms are being classified as supportive housing and are being used to meet the City’s supportive housing targets. Sixty-nine tenants who used to live in the old building have the legal right to return to units in the new building,6 which means that many of the 142 rooms were never going to be available to homeless people. Furthermore, the Winter Plan indicates that the units were to be made available to homeless people by the end of December,7 but in this latest press release, full occupancy of the building isn’t anticipated until the end of May,8 which means many of the rooms likely won’t be available to homeless people this winter at all. Previously, FactcheckToronto demonstrated that contrary to the City’s claims, the City is providing 15% fewer spaces this winter to shelter people who are homeless than it did last winter. It is now apparent that the City is providing even fewer spaces than we originally thought.
City Claim: City of Toronto Press Release, February 4, 2021
- Shelter, Support and Housing Administration. (June 16, 2015). EX7.17 Under One Roof: A Housing Solution for Women and Children at 389 Church Street. Toronto City Council Executive Committee.
- City of Toronto. (June 1, 2020). Request for Proposals: Opportunity to Lease and Operate Affordable Rental Housing with Support Services for Women at 389 Church Street, p. 4
- For more on this, see Fixing the Leaky Bucket:A Comprehensive Policy & Program Framework to Preserve Toronto’s Supply of Deeply Affordable Housing.
- See Note #2 in FactcheckToronto. (December 23, 2020). “Claim: Over the last several weeks, the City’s winter services plan…”
- Shelter, Support and Housing Administration. (January 10, 2018). EX30.22 Modernization of 389 Church Street, p. 8.
- City of Toronto. (October 6, 2020) City of Toronto 2020-2021 winter plan for people experiencing homelessness
- City of Toronto Press Release, February 4, 2021