In Toronto, the housing crisis is now invoking demonstrations across the city. In Parkdale, rent strikes have been taking place for years, notably in 2018 when above-guideline rent increases were implemented and tenant associations were formed. “There’s a massive incentive for landlords to break the law, throw people out and jack up the rent,” says Geordie Dent, executive director of the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations (FMTA). “It’s brazenly illegal, but there is a lot of money to be made.”
Recent figures show that Toronto’s vacancy rate is at 0.5%, a near-historic low, skyrocketing the price of a one bedroom apartment to an average of $2,360. Because of this thousands of Torontonians are stuck on waiting lists for subsidized housing, shelters are now homing not only refugees but students, and the bidding wars of the insignificant amount of rental options is catapulting the rent to astronomical prices.
Unfortunately for those living in Toronto, it seems as if the housing crisis will worsen under Doug Ford as his government has scrapped rent control for new buildings that was implemented in 1997 to curb the rising cost of rent. “We have to encourage builders to build purpose-driven rental apartments,” explains Benjamin Tal, a deputy chief economist at CIBC who backs the changes. “The only way to do it is to allow them to charge increased rent.”
Though evidence to the contrary, they’re moving forward. “So by getting rid of rent controls, we’re just going to guarantee that those developers can charge whatever price they want,” NDP’s Andrea Horwath, leader of the opposition notes. “But people are not going to be able to afford the units.”
With Doug Ford at the wheel, the city of Toronto is now realizing grassroots organizations are the way to go if they want changes to happen. “We know that in the past we’ve had the exemption from the rent control and it hasn’t produced the much-needed rental stock in the region, and that’s why we are in the situation we are,” said Councillor Ana Bailao, of Toronto’s affordable housing committee.
TORONTO RENTAL HOUSING BY THE NUMBERS
0.5% – The current vacancy rate
1.8%- Ontario rental increase guideline for 2019
$1,803 – The average cost of rent for a one-bedroom condo in Toronto (2017)
120 days – The advance notice the landlord is required to give a tenant for renovations
47% – Toronto households that are renters
47 % – Toronto renters spend over 30% of their income on housing
40,000 – The number of affordable rental units John Tory pledges to build in 12 years