Written by: Abigail Moriah and Saquib Ahsan, from CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network
Our vision of the good City is one where everyone has a place to live and a place to call a home.
As co-mayors of Toronto, we bring our experiences of working with communities in public housing, shelter and non-profit housing. And we have one main concern: Toronto needs affordable, quality housing.
One of the first issues we would address as co-mayors of Toronto is the housing crisis because without a place to live, people are deprived of one of the most basic needs for survival: shelter. Shelter is one of the most important factors in stabilizing people and providing security and a foundation to live. For many people, most of the money they earn goes into paying for shelter. With increasing housing prices in Toronto, it has become more and more difficult to find housing that is secure and affordable.
In our Toronto, young people are leaving their communities and the places they love and are familiar with because they cannot earn enough to affordably live. As a result, Toronto is losing its appeal as a place where young people believe they can live well.
Community is simply more than just a place to live or work; it’s is a support network that promotes social cohesion, mental wellness, a sense of identity and culture. When people lose their homes or are forced to leave as a result of costs of living, displacement from development, or safety concerns, they are often removed not only from a sense of security but their community as well. Being disconnected from a community and social group creates immense pressure for those who are more vulnerable to homelessness, such as Indigenous, LGBTQ and racialized youth.
As co-mayors, our strategy would involve working with different levels of government, community and private sectors to introduce the following priorities:
- Increase affordability in every new building that is being constructed,
- Allow for multi-family housing, co-housing, and other multi-unit housing types that are more affordable to be built in every neighbourhood,
- Increase property taxes and allocate a portion to affordable housing,
- Require that new development on government owned land in the City includes affordable housing, and
- Provide special incentives to non-profit housing providers or social agencies or charities who own land and want to redevelop.
We believe that secure shelter and a sense of community are some of the most important things to create a good city. By introducing these priorities we believe that it is possible to shape Toronto into a place where many generations can continue to call home.
The “If I Were Mayor” blog series profiles the ideas of youth and rising leaders from across the GTHA as a way to add their voices to the municipal conversation. Posts have been curated by CivicAction’s Emerging Leaders Network, For Youth Initiative, Laidlaw Foundation, Toronto Youth Cabinet, Citizen Empowerment Project, Young Women’s Leadership Network, and the Centre for Community and Immigration Services. The views contained in this post are the author’s and are not reflective of CivicAction or the CivicAction Leadership Foundation.