Mayor John Tory and Coun. Ana Bailão have announced a new initiative that they say will help kick start construction on affordable housing units in the city.

In a letter to the affordable housing committee, Tory and Bailao outlined the details of their “Open Door” initiative, which includes fast-tracking planning-approval processes and expanding the city’s financial incentives for developers.

“What this initiative will do is to cut red tape and streamline the process for developers who want to work with the city to build more affordable housing. We want to encourage private and non-profit developers to build more affordable housing and to build it faster,” Tory told reporters Monday morning during a news conference at a vacant city-owned lot located at 200 Madison Avenue.

“I believe it will mean more affordable housing faster to help those thousands of households who are on the waiting list.”

Tory called the city’s inability to meet affordable housing targets year after year a “massive failure.”

“On our 2009 goal for the city to build 10,000 affordable housing units in 10 years, we are massively behind having built only 2,800 in the first five years,” he said.

“This is unacceptable and it speaks to a lack of leadership and a lack of urgency and it speaks to a lack of will quite frankly.”

One of the recommendations listed in the letter includes using $20 million from the Development Charges Reserve Fund for Subsidized Housing to report on ways to activate “quick-start” housing developments.

Another suggestion is to secure more provincial and federal funding and lobby for legislative changes that would support creating long-term affordable rental and ownership housing in Toronto.

Tory and Bailão said they would also like to offer financial breaks for developers with the reduction of taxation or permit fees.

“We can’t afford to keep waiting and waiting and waiting,” Tory said.

“We are going to fix that. This is a start on fixing that.”

The city, the mayor says, will start to move forward with its promise to ramp up development by turning 200 Madison Avenue, a property he says has been stuck in “development limbo,” into affordable housing units.

“Today, after 10 years of inaction, I can tell you we are kick-starting the development process for this piece of land by issuing an RFP in May. Once a developer is chosen as a result of that competitive process … then the approvals process will be accelerated,” he said.

Tory says he will personally keep an eye on the project to make sure “we have shovels in the ground” by 2016.

“I will be looking again, with my colleagues, with our public servants, to repeat this process across the city, over and over again.”

The “Open Door” initiative is on the agenda at today’s affordable housing committee meeting at city hall.