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Homes for All: Social Housing in Toronto and Canada
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Homes for All: Social Housing in Toronto and Canada


This presentation examines social housing and housing needs in Toronto and Canada. …

This presentation examines social housing and housing needs in Toronto and Canada.

Michael Shapcott, Director of Housing and Innovation
Follow us on twiter @wellesleyWI

Published in Real Estate
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  • 1. Homes for all: Social housing in Toronto and Canada Michael Shapcott The Wellesley Institute University of Pennsylvania, March 2014
  • 2. YWCAElmCentre
  • 3. Toronto 1911
  • 4. 2014-SprucecourtApts-1914 Dr Charles Hastings
  • 5. 100 years old and still going strong
  • 6. Toronto, 1911: Founding of Wellesley Hospital
  • 7. Toronto, 1911: Wellesley Hospital
  • 8. “The health of Toronto must necessarily the health of its citizens.” ! Dr. H.A. Bruce, Lieutenant -Governor of Ontario, 1934
  • 9. “Our survey of Toronto housing reveals... thousands of families living in houses which are insanitary, verminous, and grossly overcrowded... Bad houses are not only a menace: they are active agents of destruction... they destroy happiness, health and life...” ! “Housing conditions are bad because many families cannot earn enough to pay for decent and healthful dwellings...” ! “Not only were bad housing conditions discovered, but the presence of a serious housing shortage was also detected... The community is responsible for provision of satisfactory dwellings for those who are too poor to afford them.” ! The Bruce Commission, 1934
  • 10. Toronto’s Moss Park neighbourhood
  • 11. New ‘garden city’ neighbourhood
  • 12. Bad housing makes you sick! Homelessness: Increased morbidity Increased premature morality Mental health: Alarming rates... especially Clinical depression and anxiety Control / meaning Collective efficacy Biological / physical: Chemicals, gases, pollutants Design (accidents) / crowdingSocio-economic: Affordability / energy Transportation / income / jobs Contextual: Individual / neighbourhood deprivation networks / friends / crime
  • 13. Good housing good for health! Physical and mental health: Better health outcomes / decreased health care utilization Community safety: Reduced recidivism among people leaving incarceration Affordability interventions: Income-based housing subsidies Environment / physical infrastructure: New housing, repairs, heating, noise, indoor + outdoor environmental issues, allergens, water + sanitation
  • 14. Is regeneration working for health and well-being of public housing residents? ! How do we know?
  • 15. Dominion Housing Act (1935) is a ‘comedy of errors’, ‘an act to facilitate the financing of homes for the middle class who were not in the market.’ ! Dominion Housing Authority is required to provide financing for rental housing aimed at low-income households. ‘I am sure it is not beyond the art of man to bring this about, even in Canada, even after five years of desperate depression.’ ! Percy Nobbs, Dean of Architecture, McGill University, January, 1936
  • 16. Immediate post-war era (1940s to 1960s): ! • Creation of Central (now Canada) Mortgage and Housing Corporation ! • Loan / mortgage assistance (espy for returning war vets) - long-term mortgages ! • Public housing / urban renewal (75% federal funding / 25% provincial)
  • 17. ! Good housing at a reasonable cost is a social right of every citizen of this country. . . This must be our objective, our obligation and our goal. Federal government, 1973 Hon. Ron Basford National Housing Act 1973
  • 18. Mid 1970s to mid-1990s: ! • 600,000+ new social homes in mixed-income buildings / neighbourhoods • Provincial cost-sharing Bathurst Quay St Lawrence
  • 19. Toronto 1911: Founding of Wellesley Hospital John Peters Humphrey: ‘Father of modern international human rights system’
  • 20. 31st October 1945.  MACKAY J.:—This is an application brought by Drummond Wren... to have declared invalid a restrictive covenant... namely, ‘Land not to be sold to Jews or persons of objectionable nationality.’... First and of profound significance is the recent San Francisco Charter, to which Canada was a signatory, and which the Dominion Parliament has now ratified. Under articles 1 and 55 of this Charter, Canada is pledged to promote ‘universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion.’...    An order will therefore go declaring that the restrictive covenant attacked by the applicant is void and of no effect.
  • 21. Toronto 1911: Founding of Wellesley Hospital International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights ! Article 11 1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States Parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right...
  • 22. Toronto 1911: Founding of Wellesley Hospital City of Kitchener (2010) Ontario Municipal Board Discriminatory municipal bylaw on spatial separation ! “Statutory tribunals empowered to decide questions of law are presumed to have the power to look beyond their enabling statutes in order to apply the whole law to a matter properly in front of them.... The presumptive power to look beyond the tribunal's enabling statute is triggered simply where a tribunal (with the authority to decide questions of law) is confronted with "issues... that arise in the course of a case properly before” it....” Victoria (City) v. Adams (2009) BC Court of Appeal Municipal bylaw criminalizing activities associated with homelessness “The use of international instruments to aid in the interpretation of the meaning and scope of rights under the Charter, and in particular the rights protected under s. 7 and the principles of fundamental justice, is well- established in Canadian jurisprudence.”
  • 23. UN Special Rapporteur, 2009 “Canada has a long and proud history of housing successes, and has been known around the world for its innovative housing solutions. The Special Rapporteur visited and received information about programmes, laws and policies that represent good practices... Canada can also rely on a tremendous range of academic and civil society resources.” !
  • 24. Happily ever after?
  • 25. Four observations: ! ! 1.Housing insecurity deep / persistent 2.Costly to people, communities, economy, government 3.Federal housing / homelessness investments eroding 4.No comprehensive national plan
  • 26. Most housing needs invisible !
  • 27. UN Special Rapporteur, 2009 “There has been a significant erosion of housing rights over the past two decades. Canada’s successful social housing programme, which created more than half a million homes starting in 1973, has been discontinued.
  • 28. “It is only in Canada that the national government has, except for CMHC loans, withdrawn from social housing. The rush to get out of managing existing projects and building new, low- income housing has taken advocates by surprise. It was never imagined that a system that had taken 50 years to build-up could be dismantled so rapidly. Social housing policy in Canada now consists of a checker-board of 12 provincial and territorial policies, and innumerable local policies. It is truly post-modern.” ! Dr. Jean M. Wolfe, McGill University, 1998 No national housing plan
  • 29. Devolution of social housing: ! • 1984 to 1993 - funding cuts to federal housing programs ! • 1993 - no new funding for new social housing ! • 1995 - Ontario suspends provincial housing programs ! • 1996 - feds start to download federal housing programs ! • 1998 - Ontario starts to download provincial housing programs ! • 1998 - National Housing Act amended - focus on commercialization of national housing agency
  • 30. 0.50% 0.60% 0.70% 0.80% 0.90% 1.00% 1.10% 1.20% 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 Federal housing investments as a percentage of GDP) Government Revenues and Expenditures 2009
  • 31. Federal housing investments (in millions) Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 2012 $1,500 $1,750 $2,000 $2,250 $2,500 $2,750 $3,000 $3,250 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
  • 32. When the feds cut a dollar in housing investments… matching funds from provinces, territories, municipalities, community and business are lost
  • 33. 450000 500000 550000 600000 650000 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 626,300 homes in 2007 492,500 homes in 2017 Loss of 133,800 homes 22% of entire stock Federally subsidized homes Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation 2012
  • 34. Advocacy successes, but fractured responses: ! • 2001 - Affordable Housing Framework Agreement ! • 2005 - Two-year affordable housing funding ! • 2009 - Federal stimulus program (two years of funding) ! • 2014 - four-year extension of housing funding
  • 35. Steve Pomeroy - Focus Consulting - 2012
  • 36. “After 20 years of continuous decline, both inequality and poverty rates have increased rapidly in the past 10 years, now reaching levels above the OECD average.” OECD (2008), Growing Unequal? : Income Distribution and Poverty in OECD Countries
  • 37. Toronto social housing wait list: ! • January 2014 - 91,232 households (167,908 people) ! • New record every month since recession of 2008 ! • Up 10% in one year
  • 38. Toronto - 1970 ! Below middle Middle income Upper income The Three Cities - David Hulchanski, U of T
  • 39. Toronto - 2005 ! Below middle Middle income Upper income The Three Cities - David Hulchanski, U of T
  • 40. Poverty and poor health Toronto Health Profiles
  • 41. Systems thinking: How interconnections in complex, dynamic world impact our lives and our health
  • 42. Toronto 1911: Founding of Wellesley Hospital Making the connections
  • 43. Wellesley Urban Health Model
  • 44. Social exclusion... ...cultural adequacy: The equity lens
  • 45. Build communities - not just housing
  • 46. Toronto 1911: Founding of Wellesley Hospital Right to the city!
  • 47. Practical proposals: The Mexico City Charter
  • 48. Thank you!