TORONTO, ON – Selling off Toronto Community Housing’s stand-alone units to private owners will contribute to further income polarization in Toronto, and will result in the loss of much-needed units for large families, researchers from a project based at University of Toronto say.
The proposed sale of stand-alone houses by the city’s social housing provider is the focus of two Policy Briefs that launch a new series from researchers participating in a multi-year project on neighbourhood change in six cities across Canada.
The first in the series is Anything But Scattered: The Proposed Sale of Toronto Community Housing’s Scattered-Site Housing and Its Implications for Building an Inclusive Toronto by Dr. Alan Walks. Walks shows how the 740 stand-alone units that Toronto Community Housing proposes to sell off to pay for repairs to the remainder of the housing stock, are clustered in gentrifying or stable neighbourhoods in the former cities of Toronto, York, and East York.
Selling these units represents a one-time transfer of value from the public to private interests, Walks suggests. This outcome will also reinforce the trend towards gentrification of these central neighbourhoods, making them even less affordable to low-income households. Moreover, there is no guarantee that the money earned will actually be dedicated to the repair of other social housing units.
The second brief, In a State of Good Repair? The City of Toronto’s Public Housing by Dr. Robert Murdie, analyses the problem of maintaining Toronto Community Housing’s existing stock. Murdie notes that older townhouse developments tend to be most in need of repair. These developments contain larger units intended for families, who would be overcrowded in the smaller units that make up the bulk of the housing provider’s stock. The author suggests other options to help pay for necessary repairs to these units, options that do not involve selling off much-needed larger units.
These policy briefs launch a new series of publications derived from the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership (NCRP), based at University of Toronto. The project received $2.5 million from the Partnership Grant funding program of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. Researchers and community partners in six Canadian cities are participating: Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto (including Hamilton and Oshawa), Montréal, and Halifax.
In these and other cities, wealth and poverty are increasingly concentrated in certain neighbourhoods. Residents of urban neighbourhoods thus have unequal access to opportunities and amenities. Researchers will study the causes and consequences of these trends and identify potential interventions to mitigate the effects of income polarization and exclusion.
The policy briefs will be available on the project’s website at http://neighbourhoodchange.ca.. Other publications and online documents will be posted there as the research proceeds.
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For more information, please contact:
Alan Walks, Department of Geography and Programme in Planning, and Cities Centre, University of Toronto
Robert Murdie, Department of Geography, York University and Cities Centre, University of Toronto
NCRP principal investigator:
David Hulchanski, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work and Cities Centre, University of Toronto