Imagine a city where you have affordable and adequate shelter. A place where you’re free to take risks, whether that means starting a family or a business, without having to worry about shelter instability. Toronto used to be that place and it can be again.
- Create affordable supply. Every politician promises this, but we mean it. I’ve personally spent half a decade analyzing housing, and understand the problem in a way few others do. We’ve come up with innovative ways to create affordable supply in the City.
- Addressing housing adequacy. It’s not enough to just find people a place to sleep (although this is a big start). We need to compete to keep our talent here, and that starts with housing they feel good about. Our local talent should see themselves raising a family and aging here, and the path to that is ensuring people are happy with their home.
- Housing is infrastructure. We don’t have a long-term, viable City without stable and sustainable housing. That’s why we’re going to create a City-owned housing company. Leveraging City-owned land, we can build cost-stabilized rentals that operate transparently. Not subsidized, stabilized. A revenue neutral plan to create housing when the market fails.
- Better housing data. Canada’s housing problem is emphasized by the fact it has some of the worst access to data in the world. It’s more opaque than well-known tax havens, according to the OCCRP.
- Reduce building costs. No, this doesn’t mean industry handouts. We took an in-depth look at non-productive costs that add-value to no-one, and plan to address them.
- Equitable consultation. You create the value in your community, and you should have a say in where it goes. Too often just a few privileged voices become elevated in a community. We have a plan to make it easy and frictionless to participate in the discussion of the future of your neighbourhood.
Toronto’s housing issues have reached crisis levels. Our beloved City went from a place where a new family could thrive, to a world class real estate bubble. Toronto’s housing crisis took the City from one of the best places to live in the world, to a place struggling to retain young people. The City has some of the brightest and hardest working people on the planet. How do we treat these people? With expensive housing that can’t be purchased even with lofty wages. After a hard day’s work, they come home to a shoebox that consumes significantly more of their income than it should. Let’s Fix it.
The Case For Quality of Life
Quality of life is a huge issue that Canadians are facing and few see it improving. If we fail to improve the quality of life for the people that live here, they’ll move.
The OECD had forecast Canada will see the worst per capita GDP growth of any advanced economy. Essentially, this means Canadians will see their quality of life stagnate. At the same time, other countries will see much higher quality progress. This is all due to the debt and diverted income towards shelter costs.
After the financial crisis, Greece infamously occupied the spot Canada is expected take. However, Canada won’t occupy it for a few years like Greece. The OECD is forecasting Canada will be in that spot for the next 40 years. Sure we’d love to have weather like Greece, but the worst phase of its economy in modern history? That’s unacceptable for two generations of Canadians to grow up in.
The Economic Case
Rising shelter costs mean diverting funds from consumption and investment. More expensive housing doesn’t improve the economy, it reduces spending. It’s called a non-productive diversion of income.
Toronto now has a lower quality of life, more insecurity, and a weaker economy. We can generate value without relying on a boom-and-bust cycle. We can build a productive and equitable City, and it starts with secure shelter.
The Case For Home Values
Ironically, long-term growth of home prices depends on sustainable home development. What makes a neighbourhood desirable? Usually it’s things like shopping, restaurants, galleries, and other services. Those places are all staffed by people who are being priced out of the City of Toronto.
Shelter is an input cost. As the cost of living rises, it’s become more difficult to operate any business. Customers have less disposable income, meaning fewer sales. At the same time soaring rent hikes are shuttering local businesses. Even Starbucks’ finds it difficult to operate profitably in this kind of environment.
Think the current price drops are problematic? What happens when the demographic of people operating the services in your neighbourhood find new cities? This leads to a spiral that will lead to the long-term destruction of the value you built in your community. The Federal government says it repeatedly — it’s your biggest investment. Do you want to own Berkshire Hathaway, with long and sustainable growth? Or do you want to own GameStop, and ride the boom and bust? Personally, we’re big on long-term value, and we hope you are too.
Toronto, and Canada in general, needs sustainable housing and there’s a lot of benefits for the City when you have it. We’ll be highlighting more in the coming weeks, so make sure you signup for updates if you want to hear more.
Toronto’s housing problem didn’t happen overnight, it happened over years of neglect. The company I founded has been hammering on two big issues — money laundering and monetary policy for several years. Those problems are too big to solve at the municipal level, and we’ve made solid progress on making it a discussion.
You can read more about Stephen’s contributions to fighting those issues in the Q&A below.
A stable macro environment is required before any local level issues are solved. Now that this is a national discussion, we can zero in on Toronto’s issues.
We’ve spent the past few weeks consulting with activists, community leaders, developers, academics, and even municipalities. Not just in Toronto, we discussed this with experts right across the globe. Incremental changes won’t be enough to fix our housing crisis, so optimizing the existing system won’t work. At the same time, reinventing the wheel isn’t practical. We learned from the mistakes others made, and their success, to build a high-impact plan with minimal risks.
- Financing risks: They say time is money, and that’s definitely true with financing. Investors demand higher risk-premiums for uncertain return timelines. This means only luxury housing is cost-effective in most cases. We can fix this easily by giving more certain timelines, helping to reduce those hidden costs.
- More flexible planning guidelines: Rigid guidelines like angular planes aren’t suitable for affordable housing. If Paris and Madrid can find a solution to more flexible planning, we certainly can.
Want To Learn More?
The posts below introduce some of our plans in more details.
After the second World War, Canada and the US made building a new home as easy as ordering it from a catalogue. We plan on bringing that same ingenuity to garden suites, laneway homes, and purpose-built rentals.
Housing As Infrastructure
Establishing a City-owned housing corporation to build purpose-built rentals when developers pull-back. Not subsidized, stabilized. Prices fall due to competition, but how do you prevent oligopolistic outcomes? We're going to compete with a radically transparent builder that produces self-sustained revenues.
Housing Data For Smarter Decisions
Cost-effective and easy data collection tools to help us understand our housing problems. It's your data, you should also own it.
Sensible Development Charges
City development charges just soared over 40% from last year. We recognize it's an important tool for City finances, but the amount was arbitrary. New homeowners shouldn't be seen as a piñata filled with tax revenues.
Provide Adequate Housing
Any shelter is better than none, but that's not good enough. We don't just want a City that's going to grow, but one where you grow with it. We need housing that's better than just a box to sleep in, and we're going to help create it.
Smarter & Transparent City Planning
Planning takes forever in the City, and it's not due to the planning department. We've collected feedback and are ready to make the process smooth and pain-free.
A More Equitable Consultation Process
You helped build the community you live in and you should have input into how it's changing. Consultations shouldn't just be for the privileged, but needs to accessible by all. We're going to help you be heard.