Jane and Finch developed as a "model suburb" in the 1960s, in response to the rapid urban growth that the city was experiencing during this period. The Modern "tower in the park" aesthetic, touted by architects such as Le Corbusier, had already taken hold in the United States as a model for social housing, and Toronto city planners decided that such a project should be built in that city. The community was envisioned as one that would accommodate a "higher need" population through the provision of low-income, publicly-subsidized and private housing. However, planners and politicians of the era did not give much thought to the social infrastructure needed to sustain community life.
Toronto planners quickly learned from the mistakes of their neighbours to the south; while the housing projects of the 1960s proliferated in (and eviscerated) many American cities such as New York City, Chicago, and Detroit, Toronto was left relatively unscathed.
Soon after Jane and Finch was constructed, and the city's "poor," who were mostly recent immigrants, began moving in, the area was already being portrayed as a hub for crime, drug dealing, gang activity, and other social ills. Its diverse population, representing over 80 ethno-cultural groups and over 100 different languages, were not provided with the necessary resources to cope with the challenges facing the community, including rampant unemployment, domestic violence, and teenage pregnancy.
The Jane and Finch community continues to experience a variety of socio-economic difficulties. A number of non-profit organizations have been established over the years to deal with issues like housing, health, legal problems, parental support and, perhaps most importantly, employment. Education also continues to be a problem, with many teenagers from the area being unable to attend university or college, while still others are not able to complete high school. While the community has political representation, it continues to be under-represented on decision-making bodies such as the boards of governors of the local hospital and university.
Despite the progress made over recent years, many people describe real estate in the area as a very risky investment opportunity, due to the ongoing problems with crime, drug dealing, and gang-related activity.