affordable housing toronto

Toronto's affordable housing crisis is costing the city billions per year

Exorbitant housing costs are just one unfortunate reality that people living in Toronto have come to begrudgingly accept, with most residents under the very valid impression that they'll never be able to actually own property here and will be relegated to renting — which isn't cheap, either — forever.

Though the city's ongoing affordable housing crisis has an obvious impact on those who want to live here, a new report has quantified the cost to the city itself, both directly and indirectly through loss of talent, stunted growth in various sectors, and labour supply constraints.

Commissioned by the Toronto Region Board of Trade and WoodGreen Community Services, a study by Prism Economics and Analysis concluded that affordable housing shortages in the GTA cost employers and the economy overall somewhere between a staggering $5.88 billion and $7.98 billion per year.

This is due to the aforementioned factors, as well as things like higher salary expectations due to higher costs of living, migration of skilled workers out of the region, employee turnover, and productivity losses caused by lengthy commutes from out-of-town, where housing is more affordable for staff.

"People will pick up and leave the region if more housing options are not made available — either because they find the same employment in cities with better, more livable neighborhoods or simply because they just can’t make the math work anymore," the report reads.

It also notes that this exodus could mean "poorer quality education or less available health care as teachers, nurses and other care providers are priced out of the region," as public sector and other essential positions are often unable to offer the appropriate wage premium required to keep workers in the city.

Moving forward as we recover from the devastating economic, social and other impacts of the pandemic, experts feel that the desperate shortage of affordable workforce housing should be of top priority, especially while housing costs in the GTA have increased 115 per cent in a decade, while median income only rose 25 per cent.

"As the costs of living have continued to increase, income levels for many city-dwellers have relatively remained the same," the study states. "

While there are many benefits to living in the GTA, these benefits come at an increased cost compared to other regions in the province and are largely driven by the price of housing."

Though there are numerous proposals to help solve the crisis, such as one that would require condo developers to designate a certain proportion of units as affordable, it is hard to have hope given how the price of real estate in the city and the region at large continues to skyrocket, unassuaged by even a global pandemic.

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