Affordable Housing: Exploring Alternative Housing Methods
For the past three decades, government investments in social and affordable housing in Canada have drastically declined. The Toronto housing market is increasingly expensive and the lower and middle classes struggle to afford quality housing that meets their diverse needs. The housing crisis is explained as an outcome of global and national neoliberalization trends; including the commodification of housing, the dismantling of social supports, the underfunding and discontinuity of social housing programs, and the decline of affordable rentals in Toronto’s housing stock. These structural issues require deep societal transformations and political commitments that are not likely to materialize in the near future. Hence, I argue that alternative housing methods and the strengths of all sectors should be leveraged in the meantime to incentivize and conserve quality affordable housing units. The goal of this Major Project is to, first, understand the current context in Toronto and affordable housing policies, programs, and tools, both current and historical. Second, the paper examines both domestic and international alternative affordable housing typologies, tenures, construction methods, policy models, and financing mechanisms which are underutilized or not used at all in Toronto. The third section dives deeper into opportunities for some of these unique housing methods to be implemented within Toronto, with the lens of legislative applicability and opportunities for implementation. The Major Paper explains why some of these models are underutilized or non-existent within Toronto’s housing ecosystem. It concludes that there is room for innovation in affordable housing, and that cities like Toronto should leverage all housing sectors to provide affordable housing that meets the diverse needs of all residents.