Toronto Regional Housing Data Bank

New Data Bank is a fascinating portrait of GTA housing

The CivicAction Alliance (perhaps still better known by its former name, Toronto City Summit Alliance) has recently released a fascinating document on housing in the GTA. Called the Toronto Regional Housing Data Bank, its purpose is to "support reports, recommendations and public education" that might "enhance strategies that are focused on improving social and economic vitality of the [GTA].

Perhaps surprisingly, prior to the creation of the Data Bank - which has been unveiled in anticipation of the Greater Toronto Summit in February 10th - there wasn't really one source that offered such a comprehensive overview of statistics related to the rental market, social housing, poverty, and population trends. Now that there is, the hope is that it'll be easier to track the GTA's housing needs in the years ahead.

Here's a sample of some noteworthy (and scary) stats from the Data Bank (read the full report here PDF):

  • By 2036, the region's population is expected to grow to 9.1 million (over half of Ontario's population) and be home to an increasing number of seniors, new immigrants, young families and working-age people.
  • 322,415 or 19% of households are in core housing need -- housing that is too small, in need of repairs or is too expensive.
  • One in five Canadian households in core housing need is located in the Toronto region.
  • In 2006, some 26% of owners and 46% of renters were spending 30% or more of their income on shelter.
  • In order to afford average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Toronto region, a household would need to earn $42,440 per year. Some 25% of couple families, 53% of single parent families and 69% of single persons do not earn enough to afford average rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
  • Across the region, the percentage of female low-income households is greater than male households.
  • Single persons are most likely to have incomes below the amount needed to afford average rent in the region.
  • Average rents increased by 11.3% from 2000 to 2010.
  • In 2009, only 7% of new housing construction was for the purpose built rental market - still the highest amount in 10 years. Out of 24,103 units built, 1,816 were rental.
  • The least expensive rental units are disappearing. From 2000 to 2008, 17,308 were lost to demolition, conversion and inflation. The majority ( -66,069) were at the lower end of the market (rents between $600 and $900) while the upper end (rents between $901 and $1,500) experienced growth (+48,760).
  • Vacancy rates decreased from 3.1% to 2.1% in the last year. There are only 6,421 vacant apartments available for rent out of 306,091 in the region.
  • There are 1,554 aging apartment towers in the region totalling more than 300,000 homes. In Toronto alone, this makes up 48% of the rental housing stock.
  • The number of people relying on the Rent Bank to avoid eviction grew by 300 from 1,566 in 2008 to 1,870 in 2009.
  • People accessed food banks 150,000 more times from 2009 to 2010.
  • The social housing wait list grew by 9,974 active households from 77,228 in 2009 to 87,175 in 2010.
  • The Toronto region received more than $670 million in new government investments for housing and homelessness programs from 2009 to 2011.
  • The Social Housing Renovation and Retrofit Program (2009 to 2011) investment totals $291 million. More than 1,000 buildings were repaired through this program.
  • Investment for new affordable housing through the Affordable Housing Program totals $307.9 million. This has created more than 2,200 homes in the region.
  • More than $32 million is being provided for rent supplements/housing allowances to 4,827 tenants in private buildings in 2010.

Photo by Jonathan Castellino.

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