Understanding the complexity of the affordable housing problem is the key first step in finding solutions – Beach Metro Community News

George Shields cuts the ribbon at the official opening ceremony for the Affordable Seniors Housing Building on Gerrard Street East in Leslieville last month. Solutions offered to the affordable housing crisis during the current election campaign in Ontario must take into account that it is not limited to one socio-economic class, said Shadrack Mwarigha, Vice President of Housing and homelessness at WoodGreen Community Services, in a recent interview. with Beach Metro Community News.

By AHMED DIRIE

With the provincial election just over two weeks away, one of the biggest issues for candidates and their parties is the affordable housing crisis in Ontario.

The election will take place on June 2.

Despite the pressure on candidates to address the issue of affordable housing, this topic was not central to the campaign at first, according to Shadrack Mwarigha, vice president of housing and homeless services at WoodGreen. Community Services in East Toronto.

“I’m not sure any of the parties really touched on the issue of affordable and deep housing groups, income and supportive housing,” Mwarigha said.

“I am looking for very intentional statements that tell me that this part of the population is not being forgotten, both in terms of providing the services needed to keep these people housed, but also allowing non-profit organizations like WoodGreen to build new housing in this regard for this part of the population.

Scott Bullock, a member of the Beaches Residents Association who has lived in the community for 30 years, is closely monitoring the state of the housing market and the backlog of people waiting to move into affordable housing.

“A lot of research that we’ve done tells us there’s actually a serious problem here,” Bullock said. “This is an issue that has concerned us for some time. There are 81,000 people on a waiting list. And according to the Toronto Star, the average wait time to get into an actual home when they’re on that waiting list is 7.3 years for a bachelor apartment, 12 years for a one-bedroom unit, 11.5 years for a two-bedroom unit and 13 years for a three-bedroom unit.

“These are the average wait times and that’s 81,000 people languishing on waiting lists. I think I speak for many people in our group that these are the people who need to be helped first.

Michael Gennin, also of the Beaches Residents Association and a resident of the area for 12 years, said governments should be held accountable for the housing crisis facing many Ontarians.

“My biggest concern from a broad perspective is the government,” Gennin said. “Any side needs to admit they caused immense failures across the whole system for decades before that, and really need to be honest with people about it before moving forward. If we talk about the provincial platforms, all of them will only spray more money on the problem.

“A lot of times it just causes more problems, or they’ll give you a treat that looks good at first glance, but will actually make the problem worse. I think the government just needs to be honest with the people, stop this and come up with a policy that makes sense. Because I think what’s going to happen this election, regardless of who gets elected, is what we’ve seen in the platforms that’s going to make the problem worse.

Donna Braniff, also a member of the Beaches Resident Association and a Beach resident for nearly 36 years, said creative solutions are needed to create more affordable and available housing.

Braniff and the Beaches Residents Association support ideas such as garden and alley suites as long as they are suitable for the property.

“You have to look at the houses themselves,” Braniff said. “There are a lot of homes where a garden suite just wouldn’t fit right now. But you need to take a look at the size of the land and where you could put a garden suite. In addition, the city also spoke of midrise, putting quadruplexes in the neighborhoods. I think because a lot of these neighborhoods are older neighborhoods, they’re probably better suited where there’s more space, because right now there’s so much densification in that neighborhood.

Progress has been made in providing more affordable housing in Ontario, but continued support is needed, said Abigail Bond, Executive Vice President, City of Toronto Housing Secretariat.

“While the city has seen unprecedented progress over the past two years in increasing the supply of new affordable and supportive housing and increasing housing affordability for residents, federal and New and improved Provincials are and will be critical to Toronto’s continued success,” said Bond.

“These investments include capital funding to create new housing supply; ongoing operating funding (for comprehensive health, social assistance and housing supports) to create supportive housing options; rent subsidies for households living in unaffordable housing and at risk of eviction; and financing renovation programs to improve the quality of existing houses.

One thing the Beaches Residents Association has said it doesn’t want to hear from provincial candidates is support for rolling back the Queen Street East urban design guidelines that were established by the City of Toronto in 2012.

The guidelines limit the height of buildings along Queen Street East, from Coxwell Avenue to Nursewood Road, to six stories.

“Most of the buildings along Queen Street and the beach are two-story,” Bullock said. “There are three and four, but the developers wanted to go much higher. At that point, they could have done four floors as of right, meaning they didn’t have to go to a fit committee or seek approval. So they have to go from two to six, or from four to six depending on your point of view. But they had to move the fifth and sixth floors back, so as not to overlook the street.

The guidelines were developed after extensive community consultation, including Regional Councilor Mary-Margaret McMahon, who is running for the Liberals in Beaches-East York in this provincial election.

Bullock said the design guidelines “worked so effectively to allow for increased density, but not skyscrapers” within the range.

Providing more affordable housing while preserving the character of neighborhoods like the beach is a challenge for all levels of government, but one the province can have a significant impact on through ministerial zoning and other orders. land use laws.

“I think established neighborhoods like the beaches, and many others in the city that were built before the car, have that perfect balance of walkability, livability, and human scale,” Gennin said. “It’s something that our group appreciates. He has this heritage that makes him unique. And we can’t leave that to the developers.

Bullock said the affordable housing problem won’t be solved in one election cycle, but work needs to start on it now, and one of the priorities needs to be those 81,000 people on waiting lists.

“It’s about setting priorities. This problem was not created yesterday or the day before, it lasted 20 years,” he said.

Affordable housing is a complicated issue that is not limited to one socio-economic class and solutions must reflect this, Mwarigha said.

“What you want is for people to come to the platform with a good understanding of the problem,” Mwarigha said.

“It’s very complex. The housing problem cuts across the spectrum of our population, middle class and lower class, and we simply need a more balanced solution. And one that’s not primarily focused on home ownership, which you tend to see right now, from the current government, even though it’s committed to fixing the rest of the issues after the elections. But you know, that commitment could have been made from the start. We didn’t have to wait.

Sharon D. Cole