Issuu on Google+

Aki Erenberg

999709702

Shauna Brail

TORONTO VITAL SIGN:HOUSING Aki Erenberg

INI235


Aki Erenberg

999709702

Shauna Brail

INI235

Why is this issue important in the context of Toronto? Toronto’s current housing crisis presents problems with regards to the quality of life in the city, as well as a growing concerns for rising prices and extremely low funding for affordable housing. Why is affordable housing important? Simply put; people need affordable places to live. Toronto is faced with issues of rapidly increasing prices, diminishing availability, fierce competition in the rental market, and a booming yet overdeveloped condominium market1. Without affordable accommodations, residents are forced to find cheaper living alternatives elsewhere, which reduces economic growth and makes the city unattractive to incoming citizens. This issue becomes even more devastating when analyzing long-term effects, which range from economic catastrophes ($4.2 billion GDP loss) to social impacts (higher crime/health care costs)2. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in Toronto is currently $1,201 (2014 currency), a price far greater than the average rent in other major cities in Ontario. There are also few rental options in Toronto apartments, with only 1.6% of vacancies for one-bedroom apartments in the city3. Few threebedroom condominiums exist in the city, with a fraction of the current projects under construction containing rooms large enough for families (23 of 93 projects)4. Even those projects with three-bedroom rentals are not appealing to families as the rent is unaffordable (average: $2,3165). This leads to the fierce competition in the rental market, forcing renters to pay staggering rates for “shrinking spaces” (developers have realized that smaller spaces are more profitable per square foot than larger spaces)6. All of this leads to increases in risks of homelessness, displacement, and other substantial social and economic issues which must be accounted for to eliminate further damage to Toronto’s living standards.

1

The Atlas of One Delta. (2014). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Socio-Economic Analysis: Value of Toronto Community Housing’s 10-Year Capital Investment Plan and Revitalization. (2015, March 1). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 3 RentSeeker Releases Annual Canadian Rental Housing Price and Vacancy Data INFOGRAPHIC. (2015, February 13). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 4 Bascaramurty, D. (2015, January 23). Toronto's shrinking condos: Built for families, perfect for roommates or couples without kids. Retrieved November 7, 2015. 5 RentSeeker Releases Annual Canadian Rental Housing Price and Vacancy Data INFOGRAPHIC. (2015, February 13). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 6 Bascaramurty, D. (2015, January 23). Toronto's shrinking condos: Built for families, perfect for roommates or couples without kids. Retrieved November 7, 2015. 2

Page 2


Aki Erenberg

999709702

Shauna Brail

INI235

What is the meaning of the data and information presented in the chapter relative to Toronto? The abundance of charts and tables within the chapter indicate a variety of data to support the claims of a housing crisis in Toronto. The two important issues being addressed through this data are the affordability of Toronto housing, and the challenges that will arise if this housing crisis persists. RBC Economics’ study compiles the affordability levels of provinces across the city, siting Ontario as one of the most expensive and, more specifically, Toronto’s levels as “moving closer to the historically poor levels that prevailed in the 1990’s”7. Toronto’s 37% increase in luxury homes has also given it the title of the “hottest” luxury temperature, with these homes only staying on the market no longer than a month8. However, TD Economics’ research states that this trend in the Toronto homeownership market is expected to “cool moderately over the next several years”, with rising costs of homeownership in the GTA encouraging renting as the affordable alternative 9. Statistics taken regarding housing affordability, trends in home prices, cost per square footage, and income versus rent price graphs all indicate that not only are rental prices steadily rising for smaller spaces, but this growing price is exceeding the 30% of spent income necessary to call a home affordable10. On the surface, this data suggests that those looking to rent are going to be ushered outside of the city in search of affordable rental units. However, a case study performed by RBC and the Pembina Institute discovered that commuting to and from work can offset the savings made from living outside the city, with a vehicle costing over $200,000 over the lifetime of a mortgage11. As well, the TCHC’s $2.6 billion 10-Year Capital Financing Plan hopes to finance the improvement of its current subsidized units and construction of new ones12. But without it, many challenges will occur.

7

HOUSING TRENDS AND AFFORDABILITY. (2015, August 1). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Luxury Defined: An Insight Into the Luxury Residential Property Market. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 9 GTA HOUSING BOOM MASKS GROWING STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES. (2015, January 19). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 10 GTA HOUSING BOOM MASKS GROWING STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES. (2015, January 19). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 11 News, CBC. "Downtown vs. Suburbs: Which Costs More?" CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 7 Nov. 2015. 12 Socio-Economic Analysis: Value of Toronto Community Housing’s 10-Year Capital Investment Plan and Revitalization. (2015, March 1). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 8

Page 3


Aki Erenberg

999709702

Shauna Brail

INI235

How can we better understand the issue and problem? To better understand Toronto’s current housing issue, we must look at what is creating the problem. The TCHC has reported that only 64% of its units provided are in good or fair condition; 109,000 individuals are housed by the TCHC and over 90,000 are waiting to access their affordable housing13. Only 260 affordable rental units were constructed in 2014, with the exact same amount being constructed in 2013. This is a 77% drop in affordable rental construction from 2012, and the 2015 target number is only 8214. Meanwhile, the homeless population in Toronto reached approximately 5,253, but because this was only a 1.6% increase from its 2009 data the city considered the homeless rate as “stable” in comparison15. A case study following the experiences of 91 women-led homeless families in the city concluded that those living without permanent resident status were much more vulnerable due to a lack of social assistance and increased reliance on unregulated jobs16. It directly associates the lack of governmental/social aid to the detrimental living conditions of those most vulnerable, tying back to the necessity for the TCHC’s 10-Year Capital Financing Plan. Toronto also lacks a developed regional transit system which can encourage densification outside of the city. In 2006, Toronto introduced the Growth Plan in hopes of redirecting new residential developments towards the existing urban area (downtown), but the current transit system does not follow this Plan17. The regional transit system extension occurred after the introduction of the Growth Plan, leading to a high densification of the city. An influx of residents moving into the downtown core led to the increased demand in housing, which then gave incentive to create unaffordable housing. All of these factors are catalysts for Toronto’s current housing situation.

13

Socio-Economic Analysis: Value of Toronto Community Housing’s 10-Year Capital Investment Plan and Revitalization. (2015, March 1). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Affordable Housing Achievements City of Toronto: 2010-2015. (2015, September 25). Retrieved November 7, 2015 15 Housing. (2015, October 6). Retrieved November 7, 2015. 16 Paradis, E., Novac, S., Sarty, M., & Hulchanski, J. D. (2010). HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING AMONG STATUS IMMIGRANT, NON-STATUS MIGRANT, AND CANADIAN-BORN FAMILIES IN TORONTO. Canadian Issues, , 36-39 17 Buchfield, M., & Kramer, A. (2015). Growing Pains: Understanding the New Reality of Population and Dwelling Patterns in the Toronto and Vancouver Region. Retrieved November 7, 2015. 14

Page 4


Aki Erenberg

999709702

Shauna Brail

INI235

What other options are there to improve Toronto’s future prospects where this issue is concerned? Toronto is making progress countering the current housing crisis. While the TCHC has put forward a viable (but fiscally challenging) solution to improve its program, the city has implemented its own resolutions (such as hosting the nation’s first LGBTQ transitional housing program18 and modifying its zoning laws to promote more communal living environments19). Yet, the most effective way to mend the Toronto housing crisis is to address the lack of housing for the less fortunate. To begin, the vulnerability of minority populations attempting to access affordable housing must change. The TCHC’s Plan may be the beginning to finding a solution but a long-term fix will be found through an increase in available social services, able to improve not just the housing choices but the quality of life for those less fortunate. Chicago’s Bouncing Back Five Year Housing Plan does just this; along with providing a range of housing options, Chicago will adjust many of their housing policies and laws to accommodate as many citizens as possible (not just those in low-income tiers). Expanding funding sources, committing to preserve and build affordable rental housing, providing education and counseling programs for potential homebuyers, and other principles/resources 20 are what make Chicago’s housing plan so promising. Toronto must also address the regional transit issue, which has begun with the expansion of the transit system into the GTA. The integration of a regional growth strategy and long-range regional transportation plan is one aspect of Metro Vancouver’s success in tackling its housing issues21, an approach which Toronto can adapt into its own urban fabric. A greater level of connectivity throughout the GTA will promote the urbanization outwards from the downtown core, which in turn will increase affordability within the city. Through the adoption and adjustment of these methods used by other metropolises, Toronto can successfully provide a viable quality of life in the city for all.

18

Housing. (2015, October 6). Retrieved November 7, 2015 Apartment Neighbourhood Opportunities - Zoning Bylaw - City Planning | City of Toronto. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2015 20 Bouncing Back Five-Year Housing Plan 2014-2018. (2014, February 1). Retrieved November 10, 2015 21 Buchfield, M., & Kramer, A. (2015). Growing Pains: Understanding the New Reality of Population and Dwelling Patterns in the Toronto and Vancouver Region. Retrieved November 7, 2015 19

Page 5


Aki Erenberg

999709702

Shauna Brail

INI235

References: Scholarly:      

The Atlas of One Delta. (2014). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Housing. (2015, October 6). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Paradis, E., Novac, S., Sarty, M., & Hulchanski, J. D. (2010). HOMELESSNESS AND HOUSING AMONG STATUS IMMIGRANT, NON-STATUS MIGRANT, AND CANADIAN-BORN FAMILIES IN TORONTO. Canadian Issues, , 36-39 Stephen, O. G., Walters, D., & Phythian, K. L. (2005). Ethnicity, immigration and housing wealth in toronto. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 14(2), 338-363 Mah, J., & Hackworth, J. (2011). Local politics and inclusionary housing in three large canadian cities. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 20(1), 57-80. August, M. (2008). Social mix and canadian public housing redevelopment: Experiences in toronto. Canadian Journal of Urban Research, 17(1), 82-100.

Non-Scholarly:          

HOUSING TRENDS AND AFFORDABILITY. (2015, August 1). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Buchfield, M., & Kramer, A. (2015). Growing Pains: Understanding the New Reality of Population and Dwelling Patterns in the Toronto and Vancouver Region. Retrieved November 7, 2015. Bascaramurty, D. (2015, January 23). Toronto's shrinking condos: Built for families, perfect for roommates or couples without kids. Retrieved November 7, 2015. News, CBC. "Downtown vs. Suburbs: Which Costs More?" CBCnews. CBC/Radio Canada, 21 Jan. 2015. Web. 7 Nov. 2015. RentSeeker Releases Annual Canadian Rental Housing Price and Vacancy Data INFOGRAPHIC. (2015, February 13). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Socio-Economic Analysis: Value of Toronto Community Housing’s 10-Year Capital Investment Plan and Revitalization. (2015, March 1). Retrieved November 7, 2015. GTA HOUSING BOOM MASKS GROWING STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES. (2015, January 19). Retrieved November 7, 2015. Affordable Housing Achievements City of Toronto: 2010-2015. (2015, September 25). Retrieved November 7, 2015 Apartment Neighbourhood Opportunities - Zoning Bylaw - City Planning | City of Toronto. (n.d.). Retrieved November 7, 2015 Bouncing Back Five-Year Housing Plan 2014-2018. (2014, February 1). Retrieved November 10, 2015

Images:     

Page 6

Title: http://mayang.com/textures/Architectural/images/Aerial%20Views/toronto_aerial_view_0036.JPG (accessed Nov. 7, 2015) Page 2: http://ocap.ca/files/may-23-house_0.gif (accessed Nov. 13, 2015) Page 3: http://www.torontocitylife.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/regent-park-23-1024.jpg (accessed Nov. 13, 2015) Page 4: http://www.redcross.ca/CMSPages/GetFile.aspx?guid=d13f55ee-7a18-4938-b73a-1efcee71cda0 (accessed Nov. 13, 2015) Page 5: http://i.huffpost.com/gen/786241/images/o-HOME-SALES-TORONTO-HOUSING-BUBBLE-facebook.jpg (accessed Nov. 13, 2015)


Toronto Vital Sign: Housing