Key Point Summary:
Shelter is one of the fundamental necessities for humans and housing is one of the most important aspects of people’s lives.
The cost of housing in downtown Toronto and the surrounding area, both rental and ownership, is steadily increasing and becoming affordable for many people. It's no wonder affordable housing has been rated one of the most important issues in Toronto.
In Canada, housing is considered affordable if it accounts for less than 30% of your household income before taxes. So if you make $30,000 a year, you would have to spend $10,000 or less per year on housing for it to be considered affordable.
In Toronto, 21% of renters spend more than 50% of their income on shelter. With high demand for housing and soaring rental prices, it seems almost impossible to consider supporting oneself while studying (or even working) in the City.
Affordable housing is a broad term which includes all forms of housing tenure (ie. rental, subsidized, and ownership). City's need all types of housing.
Affordable Rental Accommodation in the #6ix
Although there have been a number of new rental buildings built in the last few years, there is still a shortage of purpose-built rental housing . Upon pursuit of higher education many students seek rental accommodation. University and college residences tend to be relatively expensive and are not affordable for students earning minimum wages at a part-time job. A typical student income is around $6,500 per year. Average monthly rental costs as reported by Canadian Housing Mortgage Corporation (CMHC) are $896 for a bachelor unit and $1,067 for a one bedroom unit. A year’s worth of rent payments add up to be more than 100% of a student’s income!
Less Than Ideal Living Arrangements
Given the price of rental housing, most students do not have many economical housing options. In order to maintain a modest housing budget, many students seek communal living arrangements, or stay at home and endure long commutes to school and work.
Research shows that 42% of Canadians aged 20-29 live at home with their parents, with a higher number in Toronto- 56%.The unaffordable cost of housing plays a huge part in young people's independence. Renting in desirable parts of the city is increasingly difficult as rental prices keep climbing. The average vacancy rate for purpose-built rental apartments in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) is 1.6 and apartment rental rates have risen 1 ½ times faster than inflation rates since the 1990s. So where can young people afford to live that that has access to transit and amenities?
Mayor Tory Makes a Strong Statement about Affordable Housing
In April 2015 Mayor John Tory’s Open Door initiative put out a memo making the point that there has been a lack of action on affordable housing on Toronto. In this memo, Tory makes a few recommendations:
The city has a 10 year affordable housing plan which was developed in 2010, the Housing Opportunities Toronto (HOT). The City is also conducting many studies and considering a range of incentives to address the affordable housing issue.
Getting informed about housing issues in Toronto and being involved in the discussion is a great way to help our generation's voice be heard!
The most important thing you can do as an individual is to stay informed, and be aware of the housing situation as it changes in Toronto. If you are thinking about moving out next year, start looking at rental prices now! It is important to have a good understanding of what the costs of living away from home are like, so you can be prepared to cover the expenses and avoid any financial surprises.
Vital Signs - Key Trends and Statistics on Housing in Toronto
Rentseeker Blog - Canadian online apartment finder and real estate marketing company.
Sonia Sankarsingh is a fourth year student at Ryerson University’s Urban and Regional Planning program. Her passion for planning is rooted in social issues and promoting equity and social inclusion in city planning. Sonia_07@hotmail.com