City officials helped break ground Monday on a project that will see 201 new affordable rental homes built in Scarborough as Mayor Olivia Chow aimed to highlight a major part of her agenda.

“More affordable housing means stronger communities across Toronto. This affordable housing site at 25 Sewells Road is a success story of the collaboration between federal and municipal government and the not-for-profit sector,” Chow said. “To address the housing crisis we need more partnerships like this one, creating homes and a sense of belonging for all.”

A nine-storey building is set to be complete at 25 Sewells Road in 2025. It will have 201 affordable rental homes consisting of 100 one-bedroom, 83 two-bedroom and 18 three-bedroom units.

An eight-storey building at the same address will follow with 117 affordable rental homes made up of 68 one-bedroom, 32 two-bedroom and 17 three-bedroom units.

The buildings will be operated by The Brenyon Way Charitable Foundation and will feature amenities such as a community garden and shared dining area and improvements to an existing playground area to the south.

The units are being funded in part by the city through $3.37 million in capital funding and $27 million in financial incentives, including property tax and development charge exemptions and permit fee waivers. The federal government is putting up over $15 million in funding and over $79 million in repayable loans through the Affordable Housing Fund.

“I’m so happy to see the groundbreaking of this important affordable housing project in Scarborough,” said Deputy Mayor Jennifer McKelvie, who represents Scarborough-Rouge Park. “Our community has a real and immediate need for affordable homes and I’m proud that the City of Toronto is taking tangible steps to meet this need. I cannot wait to welcome our new neighbours when this building is complete.”

Affordable housing has been a major part of Chow’s agenda and the announcement comes just days before her first budget comes to council for approval.

A poll released the same day shows that Chow’s honeymoon period with voters appears to be over, with her support dropping from the mid-70s this past October to around 55 per cent over the past few weeks.

The results suggest Chow’s popularity has taken a ding in light of a proposed 9.5 per cent tax hike for homeowners. Parts of her budget, such as the level of funding for police, have also been met with some controversy.

However the same poll Monday showed that while Chow’s popularity appears to have dropped, some 36 per cent of Toronto residents see affordable housing as the top issue facing the city, compared to 21 per cent who said it’s transit, and 17 per cent who said crime was the top issue. 

“I inherited a financial mess,” Chow said Monday in response to questions over her new polling numbers. She said her budget will help pull the city back from a $1.8 billion deficit.  

Chow’s budget is set to be debated before a special meeting of city council on Wednesday.