The downside of the condo boom
TheStar.com – Opinion/Readers’ Letters – Re: Toronto condo boom signifies a healthy city, Opinion Nov. 15
Nov 18 2013. Sharad Kerur
I was somewhat dismayed to read this article. It begins with a factual description of Toronto’s condo boom, but quickly descends into a series of assertions regarding the benefits of the boom, which lack a foundation in evidence.
The central argument of the article is that mass condo development has resulted in a robust supply of affordable housing and the maintenance of stable, mixed-income communities. Statements such as “The reason affordable housing is rarely mentioned in Toronto today is that we are creating so much of it,” and, “Here, gentrification is a goal shared by all,” reveal a profound lack of understanding of the deep housing affordability challenges faced by Torontonians.
In recent years Toronto’s neighbourhoods have become increasing income-segregated with the near disappearance of middle-income neighbourhoods in the downtown. While condos offer relative affordability to some eligible buyers, when rented, they are priced far higher than what most Toronto renters can afford.
Only two days ago, the front page of the Star featured prominent coverage of ONPHA’s 2013 Waiting Lists Survey Report, which found a record 158,445 Ontario households — including 72,700 in Toronto — sitting on waiting lists for affordable housing.
There is no evidence that the increase in rental condos had moderated conditions in the overall rental housing market. Condos have not contributed to Toronto’s affordable housing stock, nor have they helped us stem the tide of increased income segregation.
With regard to housing subsidies for the poor, the article asserts that, “the condo boom has clearly relieved pressure for greater spending while helping to target aid more closely on the truly needy.” This is a surprising statement. All evidence suggests that need for affordable housing in Toronto has only increased throughout the boom years.
Sharad Kerur, Executive Director, Ontario Non-profit Housing Association (ONPHA), Toronto
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