Housing in Toronto, 2




hustle full-time square (4)
tower freelance on the side
rent part-time square feet
set off notice (2) apparently
shiny increase loom over
save up literally supplement
volatile dominate inconvenient
diverse hard time say/said/said
afford force (3) look around
fear attention demand (2)
earn vacancy downtown
rate decrease considered
condo utilities the math adds up
average apply (2) legislation
chronic shortage budget (2)
allow get rid of charge (3)
tenant profitable landlord/landlady
bill (3) move out regulation
flaw loophole advocate (2)
prefer share (3) throw/threw/thrown (2)
origin illustrate sleep/slept/slept
honest throw out draw/drew/drawn (2)
quirky province opportunity
trend field (2) compensate
van thunder leave/left/left
bay decision dream (2)
risk properly millennial (2)
impact cohesion rest of my life
retire heart (2) generation
invest councilor short-term
region loom (2) playground
tackle jeopardy narrow down
hope issue (3) counter (2)
fit (2) encounter find/found/found
argue core (2) ghost town






Young, professional and hustling to make it. Nicole Meredith has her master’s, a full-time job in communication and freelances on the side.

She lives in a cool neighborhood downtown, surrounded by just about everything she could ever want.

Nicole Meredith: “This is my apartment; it’s 450 square feet (41.8 square meters). My entire kitchen is right here in the same room as my living room. Then I have my washroom over here. And my little bedroom here. And over here is the rest of my kitchen, but also my office.”

It’s not big, but a $1,275 a month in rent, it was just about perfect.

Until now.

Nicole Meredith: “I just got a notice that my rent was being increased to $1,700 a month and apparently, according to everyone I’ve asked, it’s completely legal.”

These kinds of sudden rent increases, thirty to fifty percent (30% to 50%) are setting off all kinds of conversations inside many of the city’s shiny new towers.

Amanda: “I’m Amanda. I’m twenty-seven. I was born and raised in Toronto. I live with my parents while working part-time. I’m just having a hard time saving up for any kind of future in the city.”

Steven Twig: “I’m Steven Twig. I’m a freelance illustrator living in Toronto. You could go further out from the core; it doesn’t get that much cheaper; it just gets more inconvenient.”

Millennial Woman One: “Housing in Toronto kind of dominates our lives, I would say, because it’s such a volatile market right now. It’s one of those things that things that is kind of always looming over you. It’s you know, ‘Are you ever going to be able to afford a house in the city? Are your rents going to increase so much that you know you’re you’re basically forced to move farther and farther away from downtown?’”

Journalist: “When you look around here and you see all these buildings, do you picture yourself living down here?”
Millennial Woman Two: “I could never afford to live downtown even if I wanted to that’s my biggest fear in life honestly. ‘What’s my future.”

Twenty-five to 34 year olds in Toronto earn on average nearly $2,600 a month; that’s less than the national average. Rent for a one-bedroom condo apartment downtown is up almost 12 percent from last year to nearly $2,000 a month.

Remember it’s not considered smart to spend more than 30 percent of your income on rent; the math doesn’t add up. Bidding wars that have squeezed some out of home buying are now part of renting too. The vacancy rate is at a seven-year low; demand a 30-year high.

That’s partly because so many people are moving in, especially downtown, the place for the young and determined.

There’s just one and until very recently little known loophole: rent controls doesn’t apply to any of those newer towers in the sky, a decision that was made by the province in the late 90s.

News Report, June 1997: “There’s a chronic shortage of rental units, especially low rent one. But the government has a solution: make it more profitable for builders to build more buildings. To do that, get rid of rent controls and allow landlords to charge whatever they want for rent once a tenant moves out of a building.”

Politician: “Bill 96 does take a seriously flawed system of rent regulation and
improves it.”

And while advocates fight for the legislation to be thrown out, renters must face reality. To make it work, these friends share a one-bedroom: Zen sleeps in the kitchen.

Zen: “Whether it’s like uber, Airbnb like everyone has to do something, a supplement, even if they’re in a good place.

Friend Two: “So when you tell me to work more when you tell my generation we’re not doing enough?”

Friend Three: “Okay so there’s the dream — and then there’s the reality. There’s a lot of fun, a lot of attention drawn to these quirky millennial trends: where it’s like Millennials living in vans; and Millennials living six to an apartment. It’s not that we want these things.

I don’t think the dream has changed from our parents generation. I think if we had the freedom to dream about having an attached house and having those same opportunities, that would be my dream.

But we’ve all had to kind of narrow our dreams down into what it’s actually possible for us this time.

I would just like to work in my field be well compensated, afford a place and be generally happy. That’s it.”

Others feel to do that, be generally happy, they had to leave.

Journalist: “Where are you right now?”
Millennial Woman Three: “I’m in Thunder Bay Ontario. I would like to be around family. If we could make this work in Toronto, that’s what I would have preferred.

But Thunder Bay is a good place to live. This place is $855 (a month). We pay some utilities. Two bedrooms. We have room for when our family comes to visit. Full kitchen. More counter space than I’ve ever encountered in my life.

Most of the people I’ve talked to my age, I’m a millennial, they want to be in Toronto but they know that they are going to be there short term or because they’re going to rent for the rest of their lives.

So I think we’ll probably see an impact later when my generation is parents’ age, and we’re looking at retirement, and nobody has kind of a way to retire because we don’t we haven’t invested into anything; we can’t invest into housing, which is what my parents’ generation did, and because of that we’re paying a lot more rent so we’re not even able to save that money.”

If their future is uncertain, city councilors Josh Matt Lowe and Anna Bailo ask, “What about the future of Toronto?”

Josh Matt Low, City Councilor: “If young people have to move out of the heart of our city because they can’t afford it, it destroys the social cohesion of Toronto. It means that the very people who work in the city have to live outside of the city.

We want people of different means and different backgrounds and different origins to come together in the world’s most diverse city. We don’t want Toronto to only be the playground of the rich.

Anna Bailo: “The whole economic situation of the city, in the region I should say, is in jeopardy if we don’t tackle this issue properly.”

Nicole hopes to find another place that fits her budget for now. But then what?

Reporter: “Do you see yourself being able to build a life in Toronto knowing what you know about rents here?”

Nicole Meredith: “Hmmm; that’s a great question. I think that for sure I will not be renting in a condo again because there’s just too much risk to it; it’s definitely a possibility that I just will literally not be able to afford to live here anymore.”

A generational ghost town. Some argue is already happening in other big cities and warned Toronto could be next.


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Doorway, Entrance. Nicole’s problem is that she is uneducated, unskilled, unqualified and works in a low-paying job. True or false? Did she experience a shock recently?

Hallway. What is Amanda’s situation? What is her solution to expensive housing? Is she optimistic or pessimistic?

Kitchen. Steven says the solution is simple: to move in the suburbs or outskirts of the city. Is this right or wrong?

Living Room.
Is the housing market the most important concern for Millennials? Why is this such an important issue or problem?

Bedroom. What were the economic and political decisions that led to the current housing market?

Bathroom. Is there a generation divide between the Millennials and Baby Boomer? Have they lived in different circumstances? What do Boomers think? What is the solution or lifestyle for the three women?

Study (Room). What may be the long-term demographic trend for Toronto? Are the city councilors optimistic or pessimistic?
Attic. Is housing affordable for everyone or most people? Is housing and rents in your city cheap, medium-priced or expensive? Describe the housing situation in your town, city and country.

Play Room. I personally know people who are struggling. Yes or no? Do many people talk about housing? Is it a major topic among politicians, journalists, academics and experts?

Closet. Has the affordability of housing changed over the years? What was it like in the past? Has the situation changed from your parents’ or grandparents’ time?

Basement, Cellar. What are the factors for housing prices? Is there a “conspiracy” at work?

Dining Room. What might happen in the future?

Storage Room. Should governments and people do anything? What should people and governments do?

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