Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Affordable Housing is in Crisis - We desperately need more of it

Does a House like this look like that it could help alleviate our Affordable Housing Crisis? It could, you know. How? Just read on.

Photo Credit: Wo-Built Inc

Affordable housing is in crisis and not only for the people on the waiting lists. I did some cursory calculations and research into salaries and rent etc for the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) and this was a bit of an eye opener for me.

Let’s say you are a single mother with one or two kids and employed as a office assistant or law clerk or maybe in retail sales or as a factory worker and bring in as base salary approx $40,000/per year. That is $3,400/month before any taxes and deductions. After deductions this leaves approx $2,700. Let’s say you need a 2 bedroom apartment in Toronto. Most apartments are now around $1400 -1500. Basement apartments are slightly less expensive, but they may not be legal; hence maybe not healthy and safe.

That leaves about $1,200 for food, clothes, phones, car payments, maybe dental and medications if required, transportation, school supply etc. I know these are just rough calculations not taken into account any tax credits, child support etc, but making ends meet for a family of 2 or 3 on this kind of money is near impossible. It’s even difficult if you earn $60,000/year. (Take home after deductions is $3,700/month) and would leave about $2,200 for all other expenses. More comfortable, but a more affordable housing solution would still be appreciated. 

The simple explanation (yes, very simple and yes, it is more complex) is that we are suffering from an under supply of good units. In other words, there are not enough units for the demand. Ergo, we need more units – and fast.

Large rental developments are entering the GTA market, but take forever (estimated average of 5 years) to build due to the planning and building process and are often geared towards the high end rental market. This is not the best option to alleviate the housing shortage. What is: Legal Second Suites!

As most municipalities in Ontario are now allowing Second Suites provided they follow all the building and fire codes and bylaws, the creation or renovation of a second suite could be done within 3 months. Design and planning: 4-6 weeks. Construction: 4-6 weeks, maybe slightly longer, if more complex.

There is a real need for more units to stabilize the housing market, and there are big benefits to the home owner, by having a second suite. Wouldn’t it be great to earn an income and do something for the community? Since the demand for affordable housing will increase over the next few years as more elderly retiring on inadequate pensions, more admittance of refugees due to world upheaval to name a few, home owners will be able to charge a decent rent for their units for the foreseeable future.

For more info and to contact us if you would like an opinion if your house could have a second suite, please go to or call us on 416 402 2679.

Martina Ernst

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