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Archive for April, 2019

CHALLENGES OF AFFORDABLE RENTAL HOUSING
G. W. Kassa, Guest contributor

One of the biggest tasks facing the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is providing enough affordable rental housing to accommodate the needs of its growing population. We all know food, clothing, and shelter are the necessities for our survival. However, obtaining and maintaining these needs, and juggling between them continues for many renters in the GTA. This is especially relevant given the current economic climate and the tremendous need for rental housing from an increasing population.

An important part of this discussion concerns families who earn incomes above the low-income guidelines, yet close to considered middle or median income. The inability to find affordable rental housing has become the new reality for this group with the rising costs in the rental market and without the wage increases. Hence many renters resort to sharing rental units with several others in need of affordable housing which resulted in heavily overcrowded rental units. Also, this rental housing crisis has been exacerbated by the lack of TCHC subsidized housing which was further compounded by unheeded need for massive repairs and renovations of TCHC rental buildings.

Given the current economic environment of a bubbling real estate market, prices of housing costs are being artificially inflated. Construction companies/developers are less likely or willing to take a contract to build lower-priced housing. To entice and encourage developers, the municipal government has indicated a willingness to provide incentives by offering lands in the form of a lease and waiving property taxes. As a result there has been more emphasis on constructing condos in recent years to satisfy the demand of foreign buyers who make purchases as an investment rather than a home. That is another contributor to the high cost of renting as there is great demand but tight supply.

At the beginning of this year, the Toronto City Council approved a plan to build forty thousand affordable rental units over the next twelve years. The plan provided financial incentives for private developers to construct buildings with these housing components on specific sites provided by the City.  In the first phase of this plan, ten thousand residential units are expected to be constructed, with ‘one-third’ defined as affordable rental housing. The remainder of the units will be market rate rentals or condominiums.  This plan is a step in the right direction, however it doesn’t meet the demands for reasonable rentals for those unable to afford high rents.

Defined affordable rental housing should be increased to ‘one-half’ instead of the ‘one-third’ requirement goal. Furthermore, since the first phase plan includes sites close to subway lines, most or all these units should fall under the lower-priced criteria. That would be a major step in meeting this economical supply housing challenge. An additional benefit will be reduced travel times for workers to get to their place of employment.

There is still hope if we continue to engage with Toronto City Council and push for the changes that were approved

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NOTE – Refer to these links for more detailed information on the housing crisis:

Toronto council approves plan to build up to 3,700 affordable rental units on City-owned lands
https://globalnews.ca/news/4904971/housing-toronto-council-meeting/

Mayor John Tory unveils 3-point plan for building affordable housing
https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/john-tory-affordable-housing-promise-1.4876659

and

DOCUMENTARY – PUSH – YOU CAN’T LIVE HERE ANYMORE
(An investigation about how global finance is fuelling the housing crisis)

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/129924971/push-you-cant-live-here-anymore

 

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