Toronto’s Housing Crisis: No Easy Solutions, Experts Weigh In

Toronto's Housing Crisis: No Easy Solutions, Experts Weigh In
Residential area in toronto

Addressing the growing concerns about the housing and rental issues in Toronto, experts have shed light on the multifaceted nature of the problem and possible avenues for solutions. They stress the absence of a one-size-fits-all solution, emphasizing the need for collective action and multiple approaches.

Complex Nature of the Housing Issue

According to CBC Toronto, Douglas Kwan, the director of advocacy and legal services at the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, mentioned, “There’s multiple solutions that every level of government could enact,” highlighting the intricate nature of the housing crisis in Toronto.

CBC News had reached out to Kwan and other housing experts after hearing the grievances of numerous Toronto residents about the challenges of tenancy in the city.

Debate Over Rent Control

One popular suggestion from Toronto residents was the idea of freezing rents. The provincial government had implemented a rent freeze in 2021 following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but this was not extended beyond the year.

Ricardo Tranjan, a senior researcher at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, said, “A blunt freeze may not be necessarily the best solution.” He highlighted the historical context, explaining that while rent control may have had its downsides in the 1950s and ’60s, modern research supports a more nuanced approach. Tranjan suggests a form of rent control that adjusts with inflation but remains within wage growth.

Steve Pomeroy, a professor at McMaster University’s Canadian Housing Evidence Collaborative, shifted his stance on vacancy decontrol, noting recent revelations about significant increases on turnovers. He stated, “We’ve come to realize that, boy, these increases on turnover are massive.” He now believes that vacancy control may be a viable solution, even if temporary, to safeguard the affordability of existing housing.

housing rights protest

The Quest for More Affordable Housing

Creating more affordable housing has been a focal point in addressing the housing crisis. However, despite an ambitious plan by Toronto in 2019 to construct 10,000 affordable homes, not a single new apartment has been realized, with the city attributing pandemic-induced delays as a major hindrance.

Kwan voiced concerns about the limitations cities face in generating housing, emphasizing the importance of collaboration across all governmental tiers. He believes cities are “handcuffed” due to restricted revenue streams.

According to CBC News, while Tranjan suggests a reduced dependency on the private sector for housing solutions, a spokesperson for Infrastructure Canada, Caleb Spassov, views the private sector as integral to the process. Spassov mentioned, “The scale of this challenge is so large that the private sector must be involved — governments cannot do this on their own,” and highlighted the National Housing Strategy from 2017 that offers financial incentives to developers for creating units below market rates.

Toronto’s city spokesperson acknowledged the city’s limited direct involvement in housing but emphasized its pivotal role in funding and incentivizing projects aligning with city needs.