Policies and Praxis: A Comparative Analysis Of Affordable Housing in Toronto, Canada and London, England
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Housing is a vehicle for access, in that it provides access to a range of services for communities and its material objectivity can extend to provide safety and security. Additionally, housing can be a fixed asset that contributes to owner wealth while playing a crucial role in the economic development of a country. Regardless of value, adequate housing is an essential component for well-being, and its absence threatens social cohesion and reduces the quality of life of individuals. Access to adequate housing is threatened by the affordability gap, which is presently described as a housing affordability crisis with geographic dimensions, concentrated in particular regions and cities around the world. The crisis arises as housing prices outpace income increase, and as the ability to acquire or reside in housing is largely predicated on income, the inability to bear its expense expands the aforementioned gap. Toronto and London are two cities where the difference between household incomes and house prices has reached critical proportions, marking the embarkation point of this research paper. This analysis is motivated by my belief that there is a counterintuitive chasm between housing policy and affordable housing delivery. This belief is substantiated by the reiteration of crisis designations and numerous policies, which have been enacted to counterbalance the low supply of affordable housing. Policies are creatures of political will and are subject to ideological biases that impact their strength and enforceability. In this case, however, the mayors of Toronto and London have both recognized the necessity of state intervention to tackle the housing crisis and have enacted similar policy tools, dependent on development partnerships for their success. These policies operate within the planning system and are the primary development vehicles for affordable housing units. Four policies are discussed in this paper, namely: (1) right-to- buy; (2) Section 106 in London; (3) Section 37 in Toronto; and (4) inclusionary zoning in conjunction with sections 3.11 H5, H6 of the London Plan. The research process involved analyzing these policies and conducting interviews with development partners to better understand their practical implications and evaluate whether these policies can be deemed objectively adequate, or if they require reform in order to effectively deliver affordable housing. This research paper also reflects on how neoliberal privatization has contributed to governmental disinvestment and market reliance for housing delivery. The historic trend of reduced state housing production has contributed to lucrative private housing markets that further socio-economic imbalances on local and global scales. The neoliberal approach to housing production and the recent upsurge of delivery centered housing policy, occurs in a market of minimal state production and increased private "for state" housing production which I have termed "delivery-by-policy". This research paper concludes by determining that the delivery-by-policy approach is mostly inadequate, and that the affordability crisis will continue as a perennial problem if true reformatory action is not taken in both cities.