Solving Affordability with John Fox of Robins Appleby
Aaron and Adam are speaking with John Fox, Partner at Robins Appleby LLP, in this episode. He has a long-standing relationship working with both the public and private housing sectors on combating affordability issues.
Because of John’s expertise, today’s episode focuses on affordable housing in the Greater Toronto Area. The guys discuss the time John spent working with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, how COVID-19 has made an impact on affordable housing, and the challenge of finding appropriate land for development.
Additionally, Aaron and Adam are introducing a new segment today: the CRE Podcast Aftershow. This discussion follows the interview with John and gives our hosts the opportunity to reflect on topics that came up during the show. Check it out in all future episodes, too!
Topics covered include:
- Why there’s nothing better than supply.
- Varying definitions of “affordability” across the real estate market.
- John’s time with the Toronto Community Housing Corporation.
- Partnerships between private and public housing to address affordability.
- Advocating for future tenants in a given area.
- What drew John to work in affordability.
- How government has encouraged the development of new supply.
- Inclusionary zoning and its obstacles.
- Finding land that makes sense for affordable housing.
- The effects from COVID-19 on land prices in Toronto.
- Programs that developers are using to offset the loss of rent.
- The pandemic’s impact on non-profits to date and going forward.
- Continued construction operations despite the economic downturn.
- What John would implement to make the world better from an affordability perspective.
More about our guest……
As a member of our Real Estate Group and Leader of our Housing Group, John represents clients acquiring, disposing, developing, and financing real estate.
A former development executive, John brings a unique blend of legal and business thinking to his clients. He specializes in real estate development, social and affordable housing, and construction.
John possesses extensive front-line experience gained in his previous positions. As General Counsel, Development and acting Vice President, Development for Toronto Community Housing, he was responsible for the organization’s redevelopment mandate, including as Regent Park. In that capacity he dealt with private sector partners and the City of Toronto on joint ventures, construction contracts, and funding agreements. John was also Chief Executive Officer of the Batawa Development Corporation, which is re- developing the former Bata Shoe factory in Batawa, Ontario.
John’s practice always involves the development of real estate – from acquisition, investment vehicles, financing, and construction. He acts for private developers, public sector actors, not for profits and co-ops.
John has unique knowledge and experience in the development of social and affordable housing having been active in the Housing Sector for the past fifteen years. Examples of his work since returning to practice include representing the City of Toronto on the incorporation of 80 units of affordable housing into a high end condominium building on the Waterfront, working with the Region of Peel on the development of its housing plan, and working on behalf of private developers participating in the delivery of affordable housing, including the Weston Artscape project.
Recently, John represented Habitat for Humanity in negotiating a contribution agreement from a private developer intended to seed a land trust, which will develop housing in the local ward and across Toronto. In the Summer of 2019, John was part of a Rooftops Canada delegation to Durban, South Africa where he and the Rooftops team provided advice to government officials on the regeneration of housing stock in South Africa.
John is active in his community. He is a former chair of the Laidlaw Foundation and the Daily Bread Food Bank and is now a retired hockey coach.