HOUSING IS A HUMAN RIGHT
There is no excuse for depriving any human being of their right to be housed. The dividends of human gain must be shared equitably with all who inherit it. For anyone born in the 21st century, that inheritance is a birthright. It is for them to enjoy during their life, and to bequeath back to the human race upon their passing.
To shirk on the responsibility of providing this right, the ruling class – along with their political shills – should be ashamed. Poetic justice would require them to live in conditions equal to that of their least privileged constituents.
In our communities, the housing crisis is severe. Skyrocketing rents drive
- working class families,
- low-income communities,
- seniors, and
out of the Greater Toronto Area, and into
- unsafe or deplorable living situations,
- the shelter system, or
- the streets.
Those who cannot pay inflated rents face exploitation. An example of this is the criminal practice of renovictions. All the protections available to renters by law are only theoretical, not practical nor accessible due to the large degree of time, mental capacity, and positive cash flows required to take advantage of them – something the least privileged amongst us do not have.
The housing market is dominated by real estate and development speculators. The status quo is not willing to fight for the solutions we need. We needed to build rent-geared-to-income, publicly-owned and cooperatively-run accessible housing decades ago. Having said that, it must be understood that it is not simply an issue of demand-and-supply – it is a choice by our politicians to allow this to happen.
To address this crisis immediately, we must:
- Impose a moratorium on all evictions.
- Repeal Code 608 (the no-camping bylaw).
- Spare no expense housing those in dire need.
- Guarantee indefinite and dignified accommodation in a large selection of well-maintained hotels to people experiencing homelessness until a permanent residential unit becomes available to them.
- Ensure continuity of room occupancy, if so desired, to ensure clients do not have to repeatedly move belongings.
- Extend offer of aforementioned accommodation plan (indefinite hotel stay until permanent residential unit is secured) to those already in the shelter system and those who have previously refused shelter.
- Provide for moving of all personal belongings, including furniture, to and from storage facilities – including storage costs.
- Declare an emergency of houeslessness and poverty.
- Declare that safe, dignified, and indefinite housing is a human right.
To avoid worsening this crisis, we must:
- Eliminate blind bidding on property sales.
- Introduce real rent control/freeze, including in buildings built during and after 2018.
- Freeze property tax on personal residences.
- Establish a public property ownership registry, which shall include the designation of primary/personal residences and secondary/investment properties.
- Individuals would be limited to two primary residences for personal use (e.g. first for self, second for elderly parents).
- Determine which units are occupied or vacant at any given time, by whom, and from when to when.
- Make an extremely confidential master list of all people experiencing homelessness.
- Expropriate vacant units in large multi-unit buildings.
- Assign such units to people in dire need of housing.
- Strengthen the vacancy tax rules.
- Tax to kick in after three months of vacancy.
- Doubles every month, up to 30% of property value annually.
- Expropriation after two years of vacancy.
- Excludes primary residences.
- Residences that are determined to be non-primary and vacant for over a year may be transferred into a trust
- Any and all housing units expropriated by the City will be rented to tenants as non-profit housing.
- Rent shall only cover utilities and maintenance.
- 30% annual tax on rental income from investment properties.
- Excludes application to individuals renting out portions of their primary/personal residence.
- Require landlord licensing to ensure landlords keep units in good repair and meet basic standards.
- Convert rental properties into cooperatives if the property’s landlord fails to meet basic standards.
- Enforce orders and judgements against landlords.
- Establish a mechanism by which the City can take over properties from landlords with tenants in default, arrears, or at-risk of such, at fair market value.
- City would then treat the property as a rent-to-own unit or a rent-geared-to-income unit in consultation with the tenant.
To come to a solution on this crisis, we must:
- Build mass social housing.
- Require aggressive inclusionary zoning – 50% of newly-constructed condo units to be rented at affordable market rates.
- Create a public and accessible system for reporting landlord abuses by building on the 311 system.
- Hire more housing inspectors, and empower them to speak with tenants and inspect units.
- Introduce mechanisms to transfer property from landlords to public ownership via the City.
- Endow City with right-of-first-refusal if landlord sells property.
- City takes over for bad landlords (i.e. code red).
- Index the shelter allowance to median-market rent.