Affordable housing in Roncesvalles Village?

Sometimes in this life we get the chance to make amends.   And these days, I sure feel like making amends on the issue of affordable housing.

It might have been ten years ago that we on the street banded together to protest against a neighbour’s plan to create  a single – yes, one itty-bitty – basement apartment.  It’s hard to believe now that we felt so threatened.  And it’s hard to face the fact that I was contributing to the desperate housing shortage of today.  Since then I have moved a long way from those feelings.  I am about to create a basement apartment myself, and urge others to do the same.

Meanwhile, people keep coming to Toronto – something like 50,000 to 100,000  every year – pushing prices up for both buyers and renters, as the NIMBY crowd keeps the supply down.  As more and more people depart, looking for more affordable accommodation, I’ve realized that I had been in denial – and certainly wasn’t thinking logically, thoughtfully or compassionately.

If we want to just do arithmetic, the number of housing units being built currently, while large,  is nowhere near what is needed – and the number of units needed keeps increasing.

Anyway, I’ve had my consciousness raised.  I am a convert and I hope to convert others.   We need as many new affordable apartments as we can squeeze into the neighbourhood.   With my mortgage paid off, a survivable income, and kids grown up and gone, I am lucky that I don’t need a basement apartment.  However our high, dry, spacious basement cries out for one in the circumstances.   I’d feel guilty if I didn’t do this.

I urge my fellow Torontonians to do the same – and to welcome even more.  There is of course still a place for occasionally resisting a development.   But let’s leave behind the silly reasons like not wanting shade on our garden.  Or “preserving the streetscape”.

And forget about that old prejudice against tenants.  Anyone who can afford to rent even a basement apartment in this neighbourhood is probably fairly civilized.

Housing is a human right – but you’d never know it in Toronto.

This entry was posted in affordable housing, compassion, densification, gentrification, Roncesvalles Village, urban life, world class city and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Affordable housing in Roncesvalles Village?

  1. crimeminister says:

    I agree with you that there is a need for more and more affordable housing in this city and our neighborhood in particular! In addition to individuals addressing the shortfall by doing as you suggest, I hope we can do more to make other cities in the country more attractive for newcomers—ultimately benefiting the entire nation in the long run—and to increase the supply of public housing and public transit.

    As poorly as the “ownership society” fared in the experiment to the south, I also feel that we need to encourage more people to become freeholders; we just need to do it with fiscal soundness at the forefront and not as an afterthought. I hope that the adoption of more efficient building technologies (prefabs!) in order to bring costs down and improve quality will do the trick. I am sometimes amazed that in the era of spaceflight, biotech, and the microprocessor that we are still building houses in fundamentally the same way as our turn of the century forefathers…

  2. In principle, I agree ownership is ideal. It’s just not possible, for many.
    Average selling price in Toronto (416)– $578,575 (June 2013). The minimum downpayment for this would be $28,929 (@ 5%) leaving a mortgage of $549,647. The current lowest interest rate of 3.14% would mean a monthly mortgage payment of $2353. At 1/3 of gross income at best, that income would have to be almost $85,000 – but in Toronto it’s about half that – even for many university grads. For a working couple with a child, it would be virtually impossible, unless they got lucky. With the average rental for a 2-bedroom being about $1200, not many can afford to save the downpayment. Increasing the supply of affordable rental accommodation would of course increase the number of people who can afford to buy. And yes, I believe the supply could be dramatically increased by more progressive innovation. That problem, I believe is rooted in our culture and the TDSB! p.10

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