Media Releases

Nine out of ten families in Toronto’s aging rental high-rise buildings at risk of homelessness, U of T research finds

November 22, 2013

TORONTO, ON – New research from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Toronto’s Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work has found that nine out of ten fam­i­lies liv­ing in Toronto’s aging high-rise rental apart­ments are in inad­e­quate hous­ing that may place them at risk of home­less­ness. The find­ings coin­cid­ed with Nation­al Hous­ing Day, on Novem­ber 22.

“These find­ings reveal a hous­ing cri­sis for low-income fam­i­lies in Toron­to,” said Emi­ly Par­adis, the lead inves­ti­ga­tor on the study. “Fam­i­ly shel­ter use is increas­ing in Toron­to and oth­er cities across Cana­da, but this sta­tis­tic only shows the tip of the ice­berg.”

The study, based on a sur­vey with more than 1,500 fam­i­lies with chil­dren liv­ing in rental high-ris­es built between 1950 and 1979, looked at whether their homes were afford­able, of suit­able size, in decent con­di­tion, safe and secure. In 89 per cent of cas­es, hous­ing for the fam­i­lies failed to meet at least one of these basic stan­dards. The find­ings have broad ram­i­fi­ca­tions for Toron­to, since build­ings of this type accom­mo­date about half of Toronto’s renter house­holds.

The sur­vey found:

• Ful­ly half of all fam­i­lies in the study were liv­ing in over­crowd­ed con­di­tions, and almost half were in build­ings with seri­ous repair prob­lems or per­sis­tent infes­ta­tions.

• One-third were pay­ing more than half of their month­ly income on rent.

• One-quar­ter were in apart­ments that required exten­sive repairs, or did not feel safe in their homes.

• About one in five were at imme­di­ate risk of evic­tion because of arrears in rent.

• Nine out of ten fam­i­lies had at least one of these prob­lems.

• About half had major prob­lems in one or two areas of hous­ing ade­qua­cy, while one-third had mul­ti­ple prob­lems in three or more areas.

In this con­text, a fam­i­ly cri­sis or wide­spread eco­nom­ic changes can eas­i­ly lead to a fam­i­ly los­ing their hous­ing. “The more hous­ing prob­lems a fam­i­ly is fac­ing, the high­er their risk of home­less­ness,” said Par­adis.

The find­ings were released on Novem­ber 22, Nation­al Hous­ing Day, in order to bring atten­tion to the hous­ing needs of fam­i­lies. “Groups across Cana­da are tak­ing action today to call for fed­er­al lead­er­ship to end the hous­ing and home­less­ness cri­sis,” Par­adis said.

The research was fund­ed by the Home­less­ness Part­ner­ing Strat­e­gy of Human Resources and Skills Devel­op­ment Cana­da, and by the Social Sci­ences and Human­i­ties Research Coun­cil of Cana­da. A full report sched­uled for release in Decem­ber will exam­ine the impli­ca­tions of these find­ings for fam­i­lies, ser­vices and pol­i­cy.

View the find­ings at:


For more infor­ma­tion, con­tact:

Emi­ly Par­adis, PhD
Senior Research Asso­ciate
Fac­tor-Inwen­tash Fac­ul­ty of Social Work
Uni­ver­si­ty of Toron­to
Cell: 416–802-4025