The Know Your Vote T.O. “Big Issues” primers are meant to be starting points for readers to continue their own learning and investigating.
Note: The information sources documented and linked in the content below are from the City of Toronto website and well-known media and learning resources.
Where we live shapes our lives. What kind of housing is built, where, and how much it costs are all complicated questions. Here are three ways City Government plays a role in managing housing in Toronto.
1. City Government Approves Proposals for New Housing Development
City Government is responsible for approving or rejecting proposals for all new buildings, including houses, condos, and apartments. This process helps align everything that gets built in Toronto with the City’s Official Plan and zoning by-law, which are approved by City Council.
City Government considers many different things when making decisions about what can be built where. The city needs enough new houses, condos, and apartments to keep up with population growth and the demand for housing. But development can also bring challenges — it can change the character of neighbourhoods too quickly, or make it hard for schools, streets, water pipes, parks, and transit to meet the needs of all new residents.
The City Planning Division's website has a lot of information, including new building proposals, the City’s Official Plan, and the ways you can get involved in the planning process.
Facts about Housing Development in Toronto:
Though the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the housing development rate estimated in 2017, Toronto continues to experience growth. Occupied private dwellings in Toronto increased by 47,963 units between 2016 and 2021. This represents 4.3% growth since 2016, and is about double the population growth rate for the same period (Go to information source - PDF).
The cost of a home is rising. In 2017, the average house cost had risen to over $775,000. In 2022, the average price of a home in Toronto is now $1.3-million (Go to information source). Rental costs have also increased 15% year-over-year (Go to information source).
2. City Government Provides Community Housing
City Government provides housing assistance, often referred to as community, affordable, or social housing. Community housing offers rent support to people who need help paying their monthly rent. The main provider of community housing is the Toronto Community Housing Corporation, a non-profit solely owned by the City. Out other types of community housing also exist.
- The City has a useful learning guide that explains all the ways they provide affordable housing.
- This introductory report (PDF) from Toronto Metropolitan University defines "affordable housing" and offers other information.
- The National Bank of Canada published this report (PDF) which compares housing price trends across major Canadian cities.
Facts about Community Housing in Toronto:
The Toronto Community Housing Corporation is the largest community housing provider in Canada. It operates 2,100 buildings and houses 110,000 residents, about 4% of Toronto’s population (Go to information source - PDF).
Waitlists have been growing. More than 80,000 people are currently on a waitlist to receive some form of community housing support, up from nearly 79,000 people in 2021 (Go to information source - PDF).
3. City Government Operates Emergency Shelters
The City runs emergency shelters, which offer temporary beds to people who don’t have housing. The City has increased the number of emergency shelters due to the COVID-19 pandemic (Go to information source - PDF).
You can explore nightly occupancy rates for emergency shelters using this City of Toronto data resource.
Facts about Emergency Shelters in Toronto:
Demand has risen and shelters are often full (Go to information source). Between January and June 2022 on average 7,700 people used an emergency shelter bed per night, compared to 7,050 people in 2021 (Go to information source). On average, 40 people a night are turned away from shelters due to a lack of beds (Go to information source).
1,000 new shelter beds are being created in the next 3 years. During the 2018 budget process, Council approved funding to open 1,000 new shelter beds over the next three years. By 2024, approximately 785 of these beds will be complete (Go to information source - PDF).