Housing

Why is this important?

Safe and affordable housing is key to the health and wellbeing of Toronto residents. Households must spend 30% or less of their income on housing for it to be considered affordable. Expenditure of 50% or more greatly increases the risk of homelessness.[1]

 

What are the trends?

The City is not living up to its commitment to build 1,000 new units of affordable housing annually between 2010 and 2020.[2] After progress in 2011-12, fewer than 700 new units (rental and affordable ownership) were opened in 2013 and 2014, and in 2015 only 103 were opened. There are now close to 85,000 Toronto households on the wait list for social housing, and the number of members of families who used shelters every night was still above 1,000 in 2015 as it was 2014. Meanwhile, Toronto housing purchase prices grow increasingly out of reach for more and more people.

 

 

What’s new?

With old buildings deteriorating, funding dwindling, and demand for affordable housing increasing, the housing stock of Toronto’s largest social housing landlord, developer, and asset manager, TCHC, is in dire need of revitalization. Single-family detached homes are driving a GTA boom in price and volume of luxury home sales; even outside the luxury market single-family detached homes are becoming “dangerously unaffordable.” As a result of these high housing prices, some GTA residents, especially young adults, are considering leaving.

 

How is Toronto faring with measures of housing availability and affordability?

Toronto is the second most expensive of 33 communities across Canada in which to buy a home:

  • Toronto-based website RentSeeker, which specializes in services for the apartment industry, reports on the kind of income a person needed to afford an average-priced home across Canada in 2015.
  • An annual income of $87,407 was needed to afford the average home in Toronto, which cost $641,617.
  • Vancouver topped Toronto’s prices. It took an annual household income of $120,297 to afford the average home there, with a price tag of $909,293.
  • Least expensive was Trois-Rivieres, where the cost of the average home was $162,313, requiring an annual household income of $28,515.
  • British Columbia unsurprisingly had the highest average home price at $667,480, followed by Ontario at $471,654.
  • New Brunswick had the least expensive homes (average price $161,388).[3]

 

Salary Needed to Buy a Home in Cities Across Canada [4]

map

 

Records for properties sold, average sale prices, and days on market are being smashed monthly:

  • According to Toronto-based real estate brokerage Chestnut Park, the GTA market is smashing records at a “breath-taking” rate.[5]
  • The Toronto Real Estate Board reports year-over-year decreases of 9.9% in new listings and 26.9% in active listings from April 2015 to April 2016, but a 7.4% increase in sales.
    • Sales decreased, however, in the 416 area code (for detached, semi-detached, and townhouses) due to low supply.[6]
  • In April 2016 12,085 properties were reported sold, a new record and a 7.4% increase over the 11,254 properties in April 2015.
  • The average price for all properties sold was $739,082, a new monthly record and an increase from $636,094 in April 2015.
  • The highest year-over-year price increase was for detached homes. The average cost of a detached home is now $1,257,958, 18.9% higher than in April 2015. [7]
  • All detached homes sold in April 2016 went for 107% of their asking price, and semi-detached, 110%—new record highs.
  • Properties are also selling in record time, remaining on market for an average 25 days in April 2016 versus 35 days the year previous.[8]

 

Sky View Suites, a property management company, designed a 2016 map of the average cost to buy 3-bedroom homes across the city, by subway station:

  • York Mills station is located below the most expensive real estate, at an average $3.5 million for a 3-bedroom house, and Victoria Park the least expensive at $653,000.[9]

 

salesmap

 

Home sales in Toronto continue to increase as the average price remains over half a million dollars:

  • In December 2015, the average price for a home in Toronto was $626,942, up 9.1% from $574,539 in 2014 (itself an increase of 6.0% from December 2013).[10]
  • Total sales numbered 37,510, compared to 35,054 in 2014, 33,143 in 2013, and 33,414 in 2012.[11]

 

The city of Toronto far outstripped the other GTA regions in condo sales:

  • 69% of condo sales in the GTA in the first quarter of 2016 were in Toronto.
    • Peel accounted for another 14% of sales and York 11% (the remaining 6% were in Durham, Halton and other).
  • Toronto’s condo sales increased by 21.2% in the first quarter of 2015 compared to the same period a year before, with 5,974 units sold (versus 4,930 the year previous).
  • The average price was also up (8.1%), reaching $393,589 in Q1 2015 compared to $364,087 in Q1 2014.[12]

 

People whose residences are outside of Canada might be pushing up Toronto’s condominium prices:

  • The Fall 2015 Condominium Apartment Vacancy Survey by the Canadian Mortgage & Housing Corporation (CMHC) examined ownership by foreign residents.
    • CMHC defines a foreign resident as “a person whose primary residence is outside of Canada” and includes Canadians whose primary residence is outside Canada.
    • CMHC cautions that the survey results are not a measure of the percentage of sales of condominiums to foreign residents. Only foreign ownership was measured, not foreign investment (the flow of foreign capital into and out of the housing market). The survey asked property managers to report the number of units owned by foreign buyers in 2014 and 2015.
  • CMHC concluded that the percentage of ownership of condominiums by foreign residents is low across the 16 CMAs surveyed. Foreign ownership ranges from 0% in Regina to 3.5% in Vancouver. 3.3% of Toronto’s condos are foreign owned.
  • Within the Toronto CMA, Toronto Centre has the highest rate of foreign buyers at 5.8%, an increase from the 4.3% reported in 2014.[13]
  • In the Toronto CMA, a statistically significant increase in shares of foreign ownership in condominiums between Fall 2014 and Fall 2015 can be seen—up 3.3% in 2015 from 2.4% (a 37.5% rate of increase). In the city of Toronto, that rate of growth was even more pronounced, moving from 2.7% to 3.8%, representing a 40.7% rate of increase.
    • Similarly, shares of foreign ownership increased in six CMAs across Canada in that same period.[14]

 

Percentage of Condominium Apartments Owned by Foreign Residents in 16 CMAs, 2014 and 2015 [15]

 

  • Building on this report, CMHC then examined foreign ownership by building completion date, and found that foreign ownership of newer condominiums is a greater trend for Toronto than Vancouver.
  • In Toronto rates of foreign ownership across all building ages have increased from 2014 to 2015. The most pronounced increase over the year was in the newest buildings, completed in 2010 or later, in which foreign ownership increased from 5.5% to 7.4% in the Toronto CMA, from 6.6% to 8.7% in Toronto City, and from 8.9% to 10.1% in Toronto Centre.
    • Foreign ownership is higher for more recent buildings. Rates of foreign ownership in the Toronto CMA increased from 3.0% for condos completed from 2000-2009 to 7.4% for those completed in 2010 or later. Similar increases from 2000-2009 to 2010+ are seen in Toronto City (3.2% to 8.7%) and Toronto Centre (4.3 to 10.1%).
    • Note that the reliability of estimates ranges from “c” (good) to “d” (fair, use with caution), especially for rates of ownership of newer units, 2010+).[16]

 

Share of Foreign Ownership by Year of Completion, Toronto, 2014-2015 [17]


foreign-ownership

High home ownership prices may be driving Torontonians to the rental condominium market, increasing construction starts but also demand and rents:

  • According to Urbanation Inc., a Toronto condominium market researcher, in the first three months of 2016, the number of applications for new rental developments increased by 40%.
  • But condominium rent prices increased simultaneously. In the first quarter of 2016 rents increased 6.8% over Q1 2015, from $2.37/sq. ft. to $2.53.
  • 417 of 6,163 units (7%) were rented out for more than the asking price, a 59% increase from Q1 2015. And almost twice as many units (276) rented for more than $3,000 than in 2015.[18]

 

Renting in Toronto is unaffordable for many households and the trends indicate the problem is getting worse over time:

  • The average monthly rent (across all apartment sizes) in Toronto was $1,206 in October 2015, an increase of 3.43% over October 2013.
  • Halton Region continues to have the highest average rental rates in the Toronto Region, at $1,245 in October 2015 (an increase of 4.71%). Rents are lowest in Durham Region at an average of $1,021 (an increase of 2.10%).[19]
    • The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Region in 2014 took up 42.7% of the average wages of a full-time employed youth (aged 15-24), an increase of 9.2% (from 39.1%) since 2009.[20]
    • The average market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Toronto in October 2015 was $1,301 (up from $1,264 in 2014 and $1,225 in 2013.[21]
  • To be considered affordable, housing must not exceed 30% of gross household income (a threshold defined by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation).[22]
  • 1.3% more purpose-built rental housing was completed by mid-2015 than a year earlier.
    • 1,118 purpose-built rental units were completed in the GTA in the 12 months prior to June 30, 2015 (the cut-off for a CMHC survey), 1.3% above the 1,104 units recorded in the same period a year earlier.[23]

 

Sky View Suites, a property management company, designed a 2016 map of the average monthly rental costs for 1 and 2-bedroom units across the city, by subway station:

  • Bay subway station is located below the most expensive rentals, averaging between $2,100 for a 1-bedroom to $3,000 for a 2-bedroom unit, and Woodbine, Main Street and Victoria Park tie for the least expensive, where renters can find a 1-bedroom for a low average of $900, and a 2-bedroom for under $1,400.[24]

 

Average Toronto monthly rents, by subway station proximity, 2016 [25]

201549-rent-map-ls

 

The Toronto Region is among the most expensive places to rent in Canada, and the most expensive in Ontario:

  • RentSeeker used data from CMHC and the Province to produce its annual rental market research showing the average costs of renting in major Canadian cities.
  • Markham has the most expensive bachelor apartments at an average of $1,057/month. Toronto and Vancouver tie for second at $937, while Oakville averages $930.
  • A one-bedroom apartment averages $1,157 in Oakville, $1,148 in Richmond Hill/Vaughan/King, $1,126 in Burlington, $1,122 in Calgary, and $1,103 in Toronto.
  • Vancouver has the priciest two-bedrooms at an average $1,368, followed by Oakville at $1,357, Richmond Hill/Vaughan/King at $1,343, Calgary at $1,332, Richmond at $1,296, and Toronto in sixth at $1,288.
  • Vancouver and Richmond have the most expensive three-bedroom markets with averages of $1,615 and $1,596 respectively, followed by Richmond Hill/Vaughan/King at $1,538 and Toronto in fourth at $1,510.[26]
  • Research on the average costs of renting shows Toronto has the most expensive apartment/condo rentals in Ontario. Studios in the city averaged $902, one-bedrooms $1,110, two-bedrooms $1,301, and three-bedrooms $1,531. Ottawa is Ontario’s second most-expensive market with studios averaging $801, one-bedrooms $972, two-bedrooms $1,176, and three-bedrooms $1,365.[27]

 

Average Rent Prices for One-Bedroom Apartments, Canadian Cities, Fall 2015 [28]

red-map

Average Rent Prices Across Ontario, March 2016 [29]

orange-map2

The vacancy rate for rental units in the Toronto Region in 2015 was only 1.8%:

  • The Region’s rate is lower than both the provincial (2.5%) and national (3.1%) rates, and has worsened since 2014, when it was 1.9%.[30]
  • Vacancy rates that fall consistently below 3% are generally linked to increases in rental rates.[31]

 

The rise of online app based home rental tools like Airbnb are undoubtedly contributing to low vacancy rates, and also diverting tourism dollars from hotels:

  • Research conducted by Fairbnb, a coalition of homeowners, tenants, tourism businesses and labour organizations, commissioned research on the growth and impact of Airbnb in Toronto over the past few years. They found that:
    • In the City of Toronto, between June 2014 and July 2016, Airbnb listings have grown from approximate 2,500 to over 10,000.
    • While the Airbnb app offers owners the ability to share many types of accommodation, ranging from a shared room to an entire home, 85% of Airbnb’s revenues are generated from entire home listings and represent almost 70% of all overnight stays. Hosts who provide multiple listings are responsible for 40% of listings.[32]

 

Can the average family still get a foot in the door of the housing market?

The cost of single-family detached homes is approaching “dangerously unaffordable” levels:

  • According to an RBC Housing Affordability Report, housing remains affordable overall in Canada. The cost of condos is rising but they are still affordable.
  • But in two cities—Toronto and Vancouver—the costs of single-family detached homes are becoming dangerously unaffordable and are expected to continue rising due to high demand and low supply. It takes almost three-quarters (71.4%) of the average Toronto household’s income to afford a single family detached home.
    • In comparison, Calgary and St. John have maintained stable affordability, and affordability is expected to improve in the coming year due to low oil prices.[33]
  • Federal changes requiring a 10% down payment (up from 5%) on mortgages over $500,000 have made little difference on the market.[34]

 

Single-family detached homes are driving a GTA boom in both price and volume of luxury home sales:

  • According to a Sotheby’s International Realty Canada report examining the 2015 high-end (“luxury”) residential real estate market ($1 million-plus homes), sales of luxury real estate in the GTA saw a record year-over-year increase of 48% in 2015 (exceeding the 38% increase in 2014 over 2013), with sales of 11,112 condos, attached, and single-family detached homes.
  • The increasing costs of single-family detached homes, as well as shifts in consumer preferences, Sotheby’s says, saw GTA sales of semi-detached luxury homes (townhouses, semis, and duplexes) increase 54%. 659 such units were sold in 2015, up from 428 in 2014—and 60% of them were sold over their list price.
  • Toronto’s luxury neighbourhoods include the Annex, Forest Hill, Bridle Path, and Rosedale-More Park.[35]
  • In a Spring market forecast for 2016, Sotheby’s predicted the GTA would lead the Canadian market for luxury real estate.[36]

 

Toronto is the second-hottest real estate market in the world for the ultra-rich:

  • globalIn its annual Luxury Defined report, Christie’s International Real Estate (owned by auction house Christie’s) analyses trends shaping the luxury residential real estate market globally. Based on data from affiliates in 100 cities, it ranks the top 10 markets for market “health” and “luxuriousness.” Toronto was ranked the second “hottest” million-dollar-plus market amongst global cities.[37]

 

While the wealthiest enjoy luxury homes, many cannot afford to buy at all:

  • globalIn its 12th annual International Housing Affordability Survey, Demographia measures the affordability of 367 metropolitan markets in nine countries by measuring the “median multiple,” a measure of median house prices to median household incomes. A median multiple of 3.0 or less is considered affordable.
  • Toronto’s median multiple in 2015 was 6.7—its worst yet and a 70% increase over the 12 years of the Demographia report (Toronto’s house prices have risen 70% compared to household incomes). This median multiple is considered “severely unaffordable.”
    • The median for the entire Canadian market is 3.9 (considered moderately unaffordable).
    • The median across Canada’s “major markets” (cities with a population over one million) is 4.2, or “seriously unaffordable.”
  • A graph comparing major markets shows that, like Toronto, Vancouver is also severely unaffordable by Demographia’s measure—its median multiple is 10.8.[38]

 

Middle-Income Housing Affordability, Canada’s Major Markets, 2004-2015:

major-markets

High housing prices are causing some GTA residents, especially millennials, to consider leaving:

  • A July 2015 Angus Reid Institute online survey of a random sample of 813 GTA adults found most (84%) are worried the next generation will be unable to own a home, and 39% are seriously considering leaving the GTA because of high housing costs.
    • 18-34 year olds are more likely than other age groups to say they are thinking of leaving:

leaving-gta

  • 42% of non-owners say they want to own but can’t afford to buy.
  • 90% of respondents agreed that having a mortgage on a $1m home would be “terrifying.”
  • 61% of respondents feel that high housing prices are hurting the GTA, and 47% say prices are hurting their own community or city. A third (35%) say high prices hurt them and their household; this response was more likely to come from non-homeowners than from owners (57% versus 35% respectively).

benefitting-hurting

 

price-factors

  • Similarly, non-owners are more likely than owners to think that housing prices are unreasonably high:

unreasonably-high

  • Owners and non-owners also have differing opinions on factors attributing to high home prices.
  • When asked whether government should prioritize the interests of first-time buyers or current homeowners, 60% chose first-time buyers, although support varied by location. 66% of those who live and work in the city expressed such support versus 54% of those who live and work outside the city. Non-owners were more likely to express this support than owners.[39]

 

How can we fix Toronto’s affordable social housing crisis?

With old buildings deteriorating as funding dwindles and the demand for affordable housing only gets greater, Toronto’s largest social housing landlord, developer, and asset manager is in dire need of revitalization:

  • Toronto Community Housing (TCHC) is the second-largest residential landlord in North America (the New York City Housing Authority is the first). TCHC holds 58,000 units (most in Downtown and East York) in 2,200 buildings. 4% of Toronto’s citizens live in TCHC housing.
  • Of the over 110,000 people who live in TCHC homes, 38% are children and 25% are seniors (70% of whom live alone). 94% of households live below the poverty line (30% of households are either Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support Program recipients). 29% of rent-geared-to-income (RGI) households have a member with a disability.[40]
  • Most TCHC buildings are at least 45 years old, and the organization estimated in 2013 that capital repairs needed over the following 10 years would require $2.6b.
  • As of January 2015, approximately 350 TCHC units had become unusable because they had been deemed unsafe to live in. Without funding for the capitol repair plan, an estimated 7,500 more units will become uninhabitable over the next eight years, and 4,000 will reach critical condition.[41]

montage

  • The Province’s proportion of assistance to Toronto’s social housing decreased from 31% to 7% between 2013 and 2016, with the City taking up the difference.[42]

 

Government Contributions to Toronto’s Social Housing, 2013-2016 [43]

government-contribution

Actual and Projected Annual Federal Funding of Toronto’s Social Housing, 2008-2032 [44]

social-housing

Meanwhile, the Federal contribution is projected to reach $0 in 2032:

  • In January 2015, six volunteers were tasked by Mayor John Tory with making recommendations to strengthen and support the delivery of social housing. The taskforce, led by former Toronto mayor and Senator Art Eggleton, was to focus on operations and delivery, partnerships and innovation, capital revitalization and new development, and governance.
    • Over the year, the task force heard from over 1,000 tenants and citizens; almost 100 stakeholder groups; municipal, provincial, and federal officials; and housing experts from Canada, the US, the UK, and Australia.
  • In its final report, the task force suggests that the TCHC crisis is a result of changes in relevant policies by the provincial and federal governments. The Province’s changes to policies stipulating who has priority access have led to increased housing of “vulnerable” individuals. 24,000 TCHC households have at least one member with a mental illness, and 9,000 tenants have a “serious and persistent mental illness.”
  • The task force concluded that the financial unsustainability of the TCHC can be linked to financial, social, and operating and governance issues.
    • Residents are happy but dissatisfied with TCHC homes and the services provided to them (see the task force’s interim report).
    • The TCHC does not have the resources to provide services for tenants living with mental health issues. Instead, it relies on community partnerships that depend on time-limited funding, resulting in some residents having little to no support.
    • TCHC’s current annual budget of $658m comes from subsidies and rent. Rent revenue from low-income tenants lags behind inflation, while utility and operating costs exceed it. Subsidies are not enough to cover increasing costs.
    • Tenants pay a fixed fee for utilities (hydro, water, and waste) that currently represent 15% of actual costs. Costs in 2014 were $125.5m, and they are expected to increase 5-14% in coming years. With most buildings built between 1964 and 1984 and as early as the 1940s, the task force recommends updates and repairs to not only reflect updates to building codes and increase energy efficiency, but in some cases keep buildings liveable.
    • Over the past five years, high turnover amongst senior management (including four CEOs) and unexpected events requiring prioritization of resources away from tenant services have led City councillors, tenants, and others to question TCHC’s operation and governance.
  • The report makes 29 recommendations that require the involvement of all levels of government and are focused on five key tenets:
    • Transition to a new community-based, not-for-profit housing corporation: Currently TCHC serves three main functions: social housing landlord, developer, and asset manager. The task force believes TCHC needs more expertise in two of the three, the landlord and asset management functions. It recommends separating development and operations functions and provides two models to move TCHC towards becoming a not-for-profit housing corporation, “manage now, own incrementally” or “reform first, then transfer.”
    • Creation of mixed-income communities: Under the Housing Services Act, the City has the responsibility to fund and direct rent geared to income (RGI) subsidies to 73,346 households. 52,600 of those are overseen by TCHC. The rest are overseen by 240 smaller providers of mostly mixed-income housing with a 60/40 split of subsidized versus moderate-income tenants. In comparison, 90% of TCHC households are subsidized. The task force recommends a 70/30 split to increase revenue.
    • Improvement of existing buildings and increased supply of affordable housing: In addition to the needed capital repairs to prevent another 11,500 units reaching critical or uninhabitable condition by 2023, more units are needed. Only 3% of households on Toronto’s wait list for social housing are housed each year. Of the 170,000 households Toronto is projected to add over the next 10 years, 15% (25,000 households) will need affordable housing.
    • Decentralization of operations and strengthening of partnerships: The task force suggests that TCHC, as a social housing landlord, should provide housing services and building conditions equal to or better than any private landlord. They suggest decentralizing TCHC’s 1,600 employees, putting more staff on-site to interact with tenants, receive tenant input, and provide repairs and information. Additionally, with a large number of tenants, including seniors, living with mental health issues, there is a demand for support services. The ideal staff-to-tenant ratio for supportive housing is one staff for every 30 tenants—at TCHC one staff member is responsible for 2,350 units. The task force recommends finding those in need of support and partnering with relevant agencies to provide these services.
    • Reform of the Province’s RGI system: The task force recommends the increased use of “portable housing allowances,” which are tied to the household rather than the unit or landlord, as RGI subsidies are. Portable housing allowances would provide greater flexibility for tenants who may have to relocate and help TCHC transition to mixed-income housing.[45]

 

York Region is using a tiered rent program in its Richmond Hill Community Hub to make rents affordable for a variety of income levels:

  • Income bands (or ranges) ensure that each household pays no more than 35% of its gross income on rent, based on income (verified annually) and household size.
  • As a result, tenants pay rents ranging from 35% to 80% of the market rents for the area.[46]

 

Where are there bright spots in the housing landscape?

The Province is trying to introduce legislation that would give cities the power to implement inclusionary zoning – legislation that would allow municipalities to mandate developers to set aside a certain percentage of their units for accessible housing or low to moderate income households:

  • As a part of the Province’s long-term Affordable Housing Strategy, Bill 204 would allow municipalities to require private developers to include affordable housing units.
  • The Bill has gone through first reading in the legislature.[47] If it passes, Toronto must still decide whether to use the new power.
  • The City and a group of community organizations have been pushing for this for over a decade.
  • Chief City Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat has been quoted saying it could have added 12,000 new affordable homes since 2011.
  • Chicago, Illinois and Burlington, Vermont have instituted Inclusionary Zoning, but Ontario’s plan is much more ambitious.
  • The Ontario legislation will be read for a second time in fall 2016.[48]

 

The City is considering a landlord licensing system for apartment buildings:

  • The plan for a multi-residential rental property license, supported by some Toronto activists and tenants associations, would affect about 3,300 apartment buildings (10 units or more, three or more stories high).
    • Condos and co-ops would be excluded.
  • The licensing system would include annual inspections (of common areas) and require plans for maintenance, cleaning, and pest control at a cost of approximately $3.5m (about $12-15/unit annually).[49]
    • Landlords would have to provide their plans to the City upon applying for the license to ensure that they align with best practices.[50]
  • The Greater Toronto Apartment Association, which represents the rental housing industry, wants the City to instead use the existing Multi-Residential Apartment Buildings (MRAB) Audit and Enforcement Program
    •  Since launching in 2008, the MRAB program has issued 4,446 orders against problem buildings, and a staff report says that at the end of 2015 only 490 were outstanding.[51]
  • In June, Council voted to ask the Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards to conduct public consultations on the framework and report back in the Fall with the results, as well as budget information, a draft by-law, and plans for how it would be implemented.[52]

 

What about the people without housing options?

The number of single people accessing emergency shelters remained relatively stable in 2015 and family use decreased slightly (by 1.9%), but shelter use in general has been rising in recent years:

  • An average of 3,069 single people occupied emergency shelter beds in Toronto every night in 2015, representing a small increase from 3,038 in 2014. But in general, their shelter use has been increasing (2,835 singles used Toronto’s shelters in 2011, 2,917 in 2012, and 2,975 in 2013).
  • An average of 1,003 members of families used shelters every night in 2015, slightly down from 1,022 the previous year (but up from 882 in 2011, 928 in 2012, and 947 in 2013).[53]
  • Of course, shelter numbers underrepresent homelessness because they do not account for those who do not to access the shelter system (e.g., those who “couch surf,” “sleep rough,” etc.).

Average Nightly Occupancy by Month, Toronto Permanent Emergency Shelters, 2014-2016 [54]

NightlycensusCHART-AUG2016

Meanwhile, the numbers of shelters and shelter beds has dropped, although beds for women and youth have increased slightly:

  • The number of emergency homeless shelters in Toronto dropped by 9% between 2009 and 2014, when there were 41 shelters (the same number as in the year previous). The decrease is similar to that across the province (7%) and much better than the decrease nationally (22%).[55]
    • The number of shelter beds were reduced by 4.7% over the same time period (versus decreases of 2.4% provincially and 7.9% nationally), although they remained the same between 2013 and 2014, at 3,217 beds.[56]
  • The number of beds for women declined from 551 in 2011 to 498 in 2012. But in 2013-2014, there were 572 women’s beds, in 10 women’s shelters.
  • The number of beds for youth in 2013-2014 was 416 in 10 youth shelters, up from 394 in 9 shelters in 2010.[57]

 

While Torontonians continue to be concerned about homelessness, compared to other global cities, the city fares relatively well in terms of the size of its homeless population:

  • globalToronto has 187 homeless people per 100,000 population (as reported to the World Council on City Data or WCCD in 2015).
  • Toronto’s rate is about 30% higher than London’s (140), and 14% higher than Amsterdam’s (164).
  • However, Melbourne’s rate (395) is more than double Toronto’s, Los Angeles’ rate (592) is more than 3 times Toronto’s rate, and Boston’s rate is a staggering 6 times more than Toronto’s rate.[58]

 

Number of Homeless People, per 100,000 population, as Reported to WCCD in 2015 [59]

homeless

 

The “active” wait list for affordable housing grew by 8.4% in 2015 (compared to 1.5% in 2014). Almost 85,000 Toronto households are waiting:

  • As of Q4 2015, 84,856 families and individuals were on the active waiting list (eligible and waiting to move into affordable housing) for social housing in the city, 6,608 more than in 2014.[60]
  • 2,565 applicants were housed in 2015, 553 fewer than in 2014—a decrease of almost 18% and the lowest total in the past five years.[61]

 

The waitlist is for “rent geared to income” (RGI) units, for which renters pay 30% of their household income. (Ontario Works and ODSP recipients are charged a flat amount). Not all social housing units are RGI.[62]

  • Seniors have accounted for the largest and most steady year-over-year increases as a proportion of the waitlist between 2010 and 2014.[63]

 

Who’s on Toronto’s Social Housing Waitlist, 2010-2014 [64]

waitlist-composition-2010-2014

 

The number of affordable housing units (both rental and affordable ownership) made available was significantly less in 2015 than in 2014:

  • After a slight drop in 2014 in the number of units of affordable rental housing opened (from 260 in 2013 to 252), only 48 units opened in 2015—a whopping 81% fewer.
  • While the City improved on units built for affordable ownership in 2014, completing 98 compared to only 54 in 2013, in 2015 the number dropped back to 55 (a 44% decrease).[65]

 

A new $250 monthly allowance will help 550 families waiting for affordable housing:

  • Select Toronto families on the waiting list for an affordable housing list will be getting some financial relief — the first new housing allowance granted since 2012.
  • The allowance will go to 500 families with three or more dependent children under 18, and have been on the list longest (Households must have an application dated December 31, 2005 or earlier).
  • A further 50 housing allowances are for those with a Central Wait List application dated December 31, 2008 or earlier that have qualified for a wheelchair accessible unit.[66]

 

The City of Toronto operates Fudger House, a Long-Term Care Home for LGBT Seniors:

  • Home to 250 residents in a high-density, multicultural area in downtown Toronto.
  • After being slated to close, community members fought to save it so the City of Toronto secured its funding until 2029.
  • For many LGBTQ* Seniors, receiving specialized care in a safe space is incredibly important, especially given unique health concerns like hormones and mental health concerns after a lifetime of discrimination.[67]

 

 


 

To learn more about innovative community-based organizations and programs working to address issues relating to health and wellness, check out ckc.torontofoundation.ca.

 

 


 

 

[1] Daily Bread Food Bank. (2010–2012). Profile of Hunger in the GTA. Last accessed July 7, 2015, from http://www.dailybread.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/WhosHungryReport2012LowRes.pdf.

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