The mayor who once mused about selling public housing to pay operating costs

So remember when Rob Ford told the media he thought it might be a good idea to sell some existing units of public housing and use the revenues to pay down this year’s budget gap? He was, apparently, just kidding around.

The Toronto Star Editorial Board has more on this:

Even if Ford could somehow find a way over these hurdles, selling almost 1,000 homes in various states of repair would likely take years. It wouldn’t be much help in dealing with the city’s shortfall now.

So we ask again, “Where’s the gravy?” Ford failed to find it in time for the 2011 budget, which was to drop by 2.5 per cent thanks to all the fat he would drain from the system. He ended up spending more to run the city, not less. Never mind, said Ford, 2012 will be different. If so there’s no sign of it yet. Gutting public housing shouldn’t be an option.

via Public housing: Ford’s futile cash grab –

That the mayor mused even briefly about using revenue from the sale of public housing to plug a gap in the operating budget is deeply disturbing. That sort of strategy doesn’t even pass muster as fiscally conservative. It’s just plain fiscally irresponsible.

For the record, there’s nothing wrong with looking at selling vacant or badly-damaged TCHC units (many of them are very old homes that would be very expensive to fix up) but it needs to be done as part of an overarching plan to improve the state of public housing in the city.

Lurking under a lot of the rhetoric we hear about the TCHC — Sue-Ann Levy’s criticism of some TCHC residents who live in “prime beachfront property,” for example — is the suggestion that we could do housing more cheaply if we packed residents into dense towers, concentrated in a few low-value areas across the city. This is a bad idea for so many obvious reasons that it hurts to even think about.

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