Media Releases

New University of Toronto study reveals housing crisis for Toronto’s low-income families

March 12, 2014

TORONTO, ON – A Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to study has found that low-income fam­i­lies in Toron­to who reside in aging apart­ment build­ings face a lack of ade­quate and afford­able hous­ing places, plac­ing many res­i­dents at risk of home­less­ness.

The researchers found that nine out of ten of these fam­i­lies live in hous­ing that is over­crowd­ed, pre­car­i­ous, unaf­ford­able, or in poor con­di­tion. Fam­i­lies sac­ri­fice gro­ceries and trans­porta­tion to pay rent; par­ents and chil­dren crowd into one-bed­room apart­ments; and infes­ta­tions and dis­re­pair are rife. These con­di­tions affect health, well-being, and children’s devel­op­ment.

“Although some res­i­dents see their cur­rent hous­ing sit­u­a­tion as a tem­po­rary sac­ri­fice on their way to home-own­er­ship, many more are stuck in sub-stan­dard hous­ing con­di­tions with nowhere else to go,” says lead researcher Emi­ly Par­adis from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work. When fam­i­lies lose their hous­ing due to evic­tion, vio­lence, and oth­er fac­tors, they often dou­ble up with oth­er fam­i­lies in a state of hid­den home­less­ness, she says.

The report rec­om­mends a coor­di­nat­ed response at the fed­er­al, provin­cial, and city lev­els, includ­ing four key inter­ven­tions: a nation­al hous­ing strat­e­gy; a provin­cial hous­ing ben­e­fit; inclu­sion­ary zon­ing; and strength­ened enforce­ment of land­lord oblig­a­tions and ten­ant rights.

The cri­sis affects many groups of Toron­to­ni­ans, espe­cial­ly per­sons who are racial­ized, immi­grants, and sin­gle moth­ers. “Pover­ty and dis­crim­i­na­tion work togeth­er to shut these groups out of ade­quate hous­ing,” says Gopi Krish­na, Exec­u­tive Direc­tor of Scar­bor­ough Hous­ing Help Cen­tre and mem­ber of the project’s advi­so­ry board.

While pre­vi­ous stud­ies have looked at hous­ing prob­lems in cer­tain neigh­bour­hoods, among spe­cif­ic groups, or with­in par­tic­u­lar sec­tors such as Toron­to Com­mu­ni­ty Hous­ing, this research shows that the hous­ing cri­sis for low-income fam­i­lies is unfold­ing across Toron­to in pri­vate rental as well as social hous­ing. The research was fund­ed by the Gov­ern­ment of Canada’s Home­less­ness Part­ner­ing Strat­e­gy.

“I hope this report will make gov­ern­ments pay atten­tion,” says Rube­na Naeem, a ten­ant mem­ber of the project’s advi­so­ry board. “We need new afford­able hous­ing now.”

To view the full study and exec­u­tive sum­ma­ry:


For more infor­ma­tion, and to arrange inter­views with Gopi Krish­na and Rube­na Naeem:

Emi­ly Par­adis, PhD, Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work, Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to

Email: Tel: 416–946-0218