AHCP Seminar Series
Since our inaugural event in October of 2019, the Affordable Housing Seminar Series has hosted 11 events to date, covering topics such as the evictions crisis, housing financialization, homelessness and alternative housing models, among others. Working through a mandate to generate dialogue among researchers at University of Toronto with the broader Toronto community, our events have hosted diverse representatives from a range of local organizations, including: ACORN, the Advocacy Centre for Tenants Ontario, the City of Toronto, Convene Toronto, CP Planning, the Encampment Support Network, the Federation of Metro Tenants’ Associations, Friends of ChinatownTO, Keep Your Rent Toronto, the Kensington Market Community Land Trust, Montgomery Sisam Architects, Neighbourhood Legal Services, New Commons Development, the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, Parkdale Organize, Power in Community, Voices From the Street, the Wellesley Institute, West Scarborough Community Legal Services and WORKSHOP.
While our regular activities are currently on hold as we honour the ongoing censure imposed on the University of Toronto, stay tuned, as we are organizing a seminar series addressing concerns raised by the censure.
For further information, or if you are interested in proposing a future event collaboration, feel free to get in touch with our Seminar Coordinator Sean Grisdale at sean.grisdale[at]mail.utoronto.ca.
Faculty & Students Research Cluster
The AHCP Faculty and Graduate Student Cluster is a community of interdisciplinary UofT scholars united in exploring a wide range of issues related to Toronto’s affordable housing crisis. By recognizing the complexity and multifaceted nature of this challenge, we come together regularly to discuss and debate, through a multi-dimensional lens, the causes, processes, and consequences of our city’s declining housing affordability. While the cluster’s primary intention is to create a critical mass of knowledge among housing researchers across the tri-campus, we strongly acknowledge the role evidence-based research can play in policy development and decision-making. As such, we leverage our scholarly strengths and collaborate on research projects to develop solutions for Toronto’s housing crisis and advance an equitable and socially just housing policy arena. We welcome all scholarly involvement and want our initiatives to be accessible to any interested faculty and graduate students. For a full listing of tri-campus cluster members, click here. If you have any questions or are interested in joining our research community, please connect with our coordinator Tash Cheong (firstname.lastname@example.org).
NGO Research Cluster
The ACHP is working with community housing groups and non-government organizations to raise awareness of Toronto’s affordable housing shortage and advocate for housing policy reform. Understanding the important role community housing stakeholders play in protecting the city’s most vulnerable populations, our aim is to provide scholarly support to, and collaborate with, organizations who tirelessly work towards making Toronto an affordable city for all. Much like Toronto’s housing landscape, the nature of our collaborations are constantly evolving, but the effectiveness of our meetings rely on the expertise of community members to collectively set goals and measurable objectives. Meeting regularly, this is an inclusive space for individuals to expand their knowledge and their range of potential collaborations. If you are from a housing or housing-related organization and interested in joining this cluster, please contact our coordinator, Tash Cheong (email@example.com) for further information.
Outreach & Advocacy
Since its founding, AHCP has sought to provide research support to organizations working to expand access to affordable housing. We regularly receive requests from housing advocacy organizations and politicians, asking for feedback on proposals and initiatives, and support with communication. Since January 2021, Jeremy Withers has been the AHCP’s Community Outreach Coordinator, to ensure AHCP can support some of these requests.
Some examples of milestones to date:
- AHCP has provided campaign and research support for The National Right to Housing Network (NRHN) and the Centre for Equality and Rights in Accommodation (CERA)’s proposal for a Federal Rent Subsidy to address the evictions and arrears crisis faced by tenants during the pandemic. AHCP members participated at a series of roundtables, hosted a working group to discuss the policy proposal, advocated for the proposal on social media, hosted an online seminar on the issue, and organized meetings with MP’s to discuss the issue. See AHCP’s op-ed advocating for the proposal here.
- AHCP provides campaign and research support for the campaign for Toronto to implement a strong Inclusionary Zoning (IZ) policy, supporting a growing group of coalition members that includes Progress Toronto, ACORN Toronto, Social Planning Toronto, Parkdale People’s Economy, Jane Finch Housing Coalition, Power in Community. AHCP members have hosted an online seminar on the issue, advocated for the campaign on social media, participated in consultations at City Hall, and organized meetings with councillors to discuss the issue. See the op-ed, co-authored by AHCP’s Jeremy Withers, advocating for a strong IZ policy.
Land Trust Research & Advocacy
The AHCP has supported community initiatives and successful alternative housing solutions in Toronto, in particular the Community Land Trust (CLT) model. In Toronto, between 2017 and 2021, the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust, the city’s first neighbourhood-based CLT, successfully preserved a community-owned agriculture site and two at-risk rooming houses with over fifty units. Since its inception, there has been a growing movement among Toronto community members and organizers to implement similar initiatives. It is within this momentum that the AHCP’s CLT Team, coordinated by PhD Planning student Kuni Kamizaki, works to support emerging Community Land Trusts in the city. Under the supervision of Professors Susannah Bunce and Alan Walks, our CLT Team has been working with the Kensington Market CLT, the Friends of Chinatown Toronto’s CLT Initiative, and the Toronto CLT Network.
Kensington Market CLT was established in 2017 in response to rapid gentrification and the more recent increase of short-term rental units. In 2019, the landlord of 54-56 Kensington Avenue – an iconic building in the neighbourhood – attempted to “renovict” his tenants. The building residents, KMCLT, and community advocates fought back together, successfully acquiring and preserving the building with the support of an acquisition grant of $3 million received from the city in May 2021. Our CLT Team has supported this community-led preservation effort. Sinead Petrasek (PhD Geography Candidate) has led website and communications development, as well as a fundraising campaign currently underway. Chiyi Tam (MScPl 2019-21) spearheaded the planning and financing of acquisition from feasibility analysis to its closing.
In the adjacent neighbourhood of downtown Chinatown, our team has collaborated with the Friends of Chinatown Toronto (FOCT), a grassroots group fighting for community-controlled housing and racial justice. In 2020, we partnered with the UofT Planning program, and commissioned a research project to a group of students in the PLA1106H Workshop in Planning Practice course. The group – including Chiyi Tam – released a research report that offered strategies for combatting displacement pressures including a CLT for Chinatown. Building on this report, our CLT team and FOCT have recently launched a one-year community-based action research project titled “Who Owns Chinatown? Mapping Ownership and Precarity to Mobilize a Community Land Trust” with the support of the SSHRC-funded Balanced Supply of Housing Node project at the University of British Columbia. Our participatory research aims to identify existing affordable housing stock that is vulnerable to speculation, upscaling and eviction threats, as well as to develop community-led strategies for housing preservation.
These CLT initiatives, from Kensington Market and Chinatown to Parkdale and most recently – Little Jamaica, are making up the growing CLT movement in Toronto. A common challenge for start-up CLTs is the need for resources and technical expertise required for housing acquisition, preservation, and stewardship. To this end, our CLT team has been assisting the development of the Toronto Community Land Trust Network – currently housed in the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust – to foster collaboration and support between established and emerging CLTs. In particular, we are conducting action-oriented research – led by Laura Vaz-Jones (PhD Geography Candidate) – to explore a networked approach support system.
Affordable Housing Challenge Project
The Affordable Housing Challenge Project is an initiative of the University of Toronto School of Cities. The AHCP collective brings together scholars from across the University of Toronto, who are researching issues related to housing affordability from different disciplinary perspectives, with the objective of working together to research, discuss and debate the causes, processes, policies and consequences of declining housing affordability.