A Webinar with Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão
5 Key Takeaways:
1. We Can’t Build Our Way Out of the Housing Crisis
We can’t simply build our way out of the housing crisis, and we can’t fund our way out either. Ana goes on to describe the intricacies of the relationship between the government and developers, and their individual roles in the housing market. Neither one of these bodies is responsible, or able to build all the affordable housing that the City desperately needs. However, there are currently two schools of thought surrounding this issue. One side argues that the market will take care of itself; if we just build, build, build all of the housing issues will be solved. The other side argues that we just need to remove the private sector entirely and lean on the government for funding. The truth is, neither of these options are feasible. Governments don’t have enough money, and the private sector has no incentive to build the volume of housing required on the lower side of the spectrum. The future of housing in Toronto is collaborative and will need the support of both government and developers.
2. Affordability is a Spectrum
Housing affordability is a spectrum and is deeply subjective. The average salary of an individual living in Toronto’s Community Housing (TCHC) is $16,000 a year. The sad truth is that the market is never going to organically provide housing for these people. That is why government intervention at this end of the spectrum is critical and necessary. The government needs to step in to fund supportive housing, social housing, and the deeply affordable. However, there is always going to be the need for supply and that is where the private sector plays a role.
You can have an impact with legislation, and you can have an impact with supply; the takeaway is that neither can enact change alone.
3. Incentivizing Missing Middle Design
Missing middle housing will provide more housing options, and will in turn bring affordability. This can be achieved through building diverse housing and incentivizing development by lowering the cost of development. Ana goes on to discuss laneway housing in Toronto and highlights the fact that the City provides grants to assist with construction costs. This particular program is a win-win as it encourages homeowners to build laneway housing on their lot and provides someone with a home. Success moving into the future looks a lot like zoning As of Right and up-zoning. The single-family home is an option but is not the only option. Building neighbourhoods that provide diverse housing typologies will ensure that more people have the opportunity to live in the neighbourhood of their choice.
4. Aligning Economic Tools and Policy Tools
What we need to focus on moving into the future is economics. As the City continues to establish housing policy, it is important to remain practical and see the bigger picture. Economics drive most operations in the City; it is crucial to the health of the housing market to create a realistic financial roadmap. We must align our financial tools with our policy tools as they are never isolated. Holding hands with CMHC and the banks throughout the development process will ensure transparency for both stakeholders and the public.
5. In Order for Things to Stay the Same, They Need to Change
Social health and social inclusion will continue to be jeopardised if we stay on this path. Policy changes, government intervention, and new development push us into unknown territory which can be scary. This fear is justified, but being passive in the face of a crisis is a misstep. Ana states that leading with the facts and standing up for what is right is the truest way into a more inclusive future. As she puts it very eloquently, “in order for things to stay the same, they need to change.”