Frontier Centre releases Housing Affordability and the Standard of Living in Toronto

Media Release, Housing Affordability, Wendell Cox

The Frontier Centre for Public Policy has today released Housing Affordability and the Standard of Living in Toronto, a new report authored by Wendell Cox, a senior fellow with the Frontier Centre.

Mr Cox is an expert in land use and transportation policy and the co-author of the annual Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey, which has examined metropolitan areas in Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States since 2004.

In this report, Mr Cox draws on evidence from the Demographia survey, and his knowledge of the role of housing affordability in poverty reduction, to make recommendations for Toronto to address the severe deterioration in housing affordability that has occurred in the city since 2000.

The report finds that the use of urban containment policies such as the Places to Grow Act can drive prices of land and houses higher by artificially restricting the supply of land.

Cox recommends that city council liberalize housing policy, including expanding the urban growth boundary. He also recommends establish and monitor housing affordability standards, increasing reliance on user fees, and seeking out innovating infrastructure finance mechanisms such as special housing districts that could offer self-contained public services to remove the burden of infrastructure for new housing developments from city council.

While Toronto has seen major economic growth, the ratio of median housing prices to median incomes has nearly doubled since 2000. The median price of detached housing has risen 91 per cent over that period, while semi-detached housing, townhouses, and apartments have increased 87 per cent, 67 per cent, and 66 percent, respectively.

“If house prices continue to increase at a rate greater than incomes in the Toronto area, the standard of living could decline further and poverty could increase,” warns Cox.

Municipal government policies can have real and significant impacts on housing affordability and on the public’s standard of living.

“The cost of housing is the largest element of household budgets and is thus a major determinant of the standard of living and the extent of poverty. There is a need to focus on the fundamental priority of improving the standard of living and reducing poverty,” Mr Cox concluded.

View the entire study here: