Housing crisis for Toronto's low-income families
Low-income families living in aging, highrise apartment towers across Toronto are at risk of homelessness, a University of Toronto report has found.
Researchers found that nine out of 10 of these families live in housing that is overcrowded, precarious, unaffordable, or in poor condition. Families sacrifice groceries and transportation to pay rent; parents and children crowd into one-bedroom apartments; and infestations and disrepair are rife. These conditions affect health, well-being, and children’s development.
“Although some residents see their current housing situation as a temporary sacrifice on their way to home-ownership, many more are stuck in sub-standard housing conditions with nowhere else to go,” says lead researcher Emily Paradis from the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.
When families lose their housing due to eviction, violence, and other factors, they often double up with other families in a state of hidden homelessness, she says.
The report recommends a coordinated response at the federal, provincial, and city levels, including four key interventions: a national housing strategy; a provincial housing benefit; inclusionary zoning; and strengthened enforcement of landlord obligations and tenant rights.
The crisis affects many groups of Torontonians, especially persons who are racialized, immigrants, and lone mothers.
“Poverty and discrimination work together to shut these groups out of adequate housing,” says Gopi Krishna, Executive Director of Scarborough Housing Help Centre and member of the project’s advisory board.
While previous studies have looked at housing problems in certain neighbourhoods, among specific groups, or within particular sectors such as Toronto Community Housing, this research shows that the housing crisis for low-income families is unfolding across Toronto, in private rental as well as social housing. The research was funded by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy.
“I hope this report will make governments pay attention,” says Rubena Naeem, a tenant member of the project’s advisory board. “We need new affordable housing now.”
(View the full report and executive summary.)
Dominic Ali is a writer with University Relations at the University of Toronto.