Opinion: Toronto can solve its affordable housing crisis. Here's how

August 9, 2018
Article Source
Toronto Star

From a Toronto Star opinion piece: Toronto faces a crisis of housing affordability that threatens the well-being of its people and their ability to achieve the Canadian Dream as well as acts as a fundamental break on our economic progress.
In the past several decades, Toronto has transformed from a sleepy regional hub into one of the nation's and the world's leading global cities. It is the engine that drives the economy of Ontario and Canada.

Over the last decade, it has leapt into to global "superstar city" status, becoming a powerful tech hub, generating high-paying knowledge jobs at a breakneck pace. In fact, Toronto added more than 80,000 new tech jobs between 2012 and 2017, better than New York or the Silicon Valley, according to a report on the world's leading tech hubs released last month.

But, that very success has pushed housing prices into the stratosphere. Toronto is the world's ninth least affordable housing market according to a 2018 survey. The median house in the city costs 7.7 times the median household income, a bigger affordability gap than in New York City. 

The city's housing affordability crisis acts as a fundamental limit on our future progress. The talent needed to fuel our economy can no longer afford to comfortably live here.

The housing cost squeeze hits hardest at low-wage blue collar and service workers. They have just $11,500 and $26,400 left over after paying for housing compared to knowledge, professional and creative workers who have $45,000 left over, according to calculationsby my research team.

Home-ownership is out of reach for entire classes and generations of Torontonians. Currently, there are 245,605 renter households in Toronto facing affordability issues, and more than 90,000 households on the affordable housing wait list.

This disturbing situation will only get worse if we continue on the same path. Families are moving out of Toronto and middle-class parents who, decades ago, bought homes at a fraction of the cost of their million dollar-plus present-day valuations have adult children living at home because they can't afford housing close to their jobs.

Toronto's economic success gives it the economic capacity to address its housing problem. It means building more housing, building denser neighbourhoods, building more affordable housing, especially around transit. All of these are things we can do, if we have the political vision and will.

And it can be done in a fiscally prudent way:

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