Affordable Housing

Nowhere Else to Go: Inadequate Housing & Risk of Homelessness Among Families in Toronto’s Aging Rental Buildings

This report explores the continuum of inadequate housing, risk of homelessness, and visible homelessness among families in Toronto. Low-income families often move between different points on this continuum, and homelessness among families is more likely to be hidden than visible. Drawing upon a survey of families living in aging rental apartment buildings in Toronto’s low-income neighbourhoods, and on focus groups with parents and service providers, this study examines the relationship between housing conditions and homelessness. The findings show that large numbers of children and parents are living in precarious, unaffordable, poor-quality housing. The report recommends four key interventions that can improve families’ access to safe, stable, affordable, and suitable housing.

Emily Paradis, PhD, is Senior Research Associate, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work, University of Toronto. An activist, researcher, advocate, and front-line service provider with women facing homelessness for 25 years, her scholarly work focuses on homelessness among women and families, human rights dimensions of homelessness and housing, community-based research and action with marginalized groups, and participatory interventions to address socio-spatial inequalities between and within urban neighbourhoods. She is Project Manager of the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership

Research Paper 231, Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership, University of Toronto, March 2014

Funded by the Government of Canada’s Homelessness Partnering Strategy, and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada through the Neighbourhood Change Research Partnership at the University of Toronto’s Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work.


Nine out of Ten Families at Risk of Homelessness in Toronto’s Aging Rental Highrise Buildings

All families in this study are housed. This study sets out to define and measure inadequate housing, hidden homelessness, and the risk of absolute homelessness in a low-income, housed population. This includes families on a continuum of housing vulnerability and homelessness, from inadequate and precarious housing, to hidden homelessness, to visible homelessness and shelter use, to re-housing after a period in a shelter. Families often move back and forth along this continuum.



Canada’s New Federal Mortgage Regulations: Warranted and Fair?

This research bulletin reviews and analyzes the changes that have been made to mortgage lending regulations. Instead of examining their effect on housing values or the Canadian economy more broadly, the objective is to ascertain their impact on borrowers. In particular, this analysis considers whether the new rules are socially warranted, given differential access to credit and the current distribution of household debt among different socio-economic groups, and whether the new rules make mortgage lending in Canada more fair or less fair. In short, it seeks to determine whether the new regulations represent a net social benefit to Canadian society.


The Financing and Economics of Affordable Housing Development: Incentives and disincentives to private-sector participation — Research Bulletin

This eight page summary of the full report concludes:  “There is a need for debate and discussion of the ideas in this paper, as well as broader questions about stimulating rental housing development. For example, should stimulat­ing more private-sector participation in affordable housing development and financing be a government policy objective? Should the funding envelope be modified to provide more money for purchasing existing buildings and rehabilitating them for affordable rental? How should policy recommenda­tions and actions be shaped to increase effectiveness in ad­dressing needs in gentrifying areas?”

The Financing and Economics of Affordable Housing Development: Incentives and disincentives to private-sector participation — Full 50-page Research Report

The development of multi-unit residential housing is a complex, costly, capital-intensive, and risky business, particularly for the major players: real estate developers, owners of rental buildings, and financers of development projects and long-term mortgages. All expect their financial returns to be commensurate with the risks they assume, and all need to cover their investment of time, money, and expertise.

The purpose of this paper is to help a broader audience unfamiliar with real estate finance to understand the economics of the major for-profit players, or “how they make money.” Better understanding of the for-profit real estate business and the issues faced by for-profit players in rental development should help generate ideas for incentives (or ways to overcome disincentives) to stimulate greater private-sector involvement in creating affordable multi-unit rental housing.

The paper uses simplified financial models to explain and compare the economics of for-profit condo development, for-profit apartment development, and affordable rental development. The models show that a for-profit developer would need to charge luxury rents of more than double an affordable rent level to reach a minimum acceptable profit margin. Charging lower rents means insufficient income to cover interest costs – that is, bankruptcy. This is why it is not economically attractive for the private sector to participate in the creation of multi-unit rental housing, particularly in large urban centres like Toronto.