As I mentioned the other week, our perspective of housing has really changed a lot in the last 50 years. But, as a Property Manager in the GTA, I believe there is a real benefit to living and working in Toronto. For some, it is proximity to work, different services offered or the fabulous restaurants and nightlife. But I realize this does come at a price, whether it is financial or otherwise. I’m not suggesting we need to reduce city programs or close parks – what I am talking about is looking differently at our space, our community and our programs aimed at creating affordable housing. First, lets do more with less, get rid of the expectations that your home “has to” have things you have become accustomed to. More bachelor suites, or accommodations with shared facilities would be a great start. With less space, you typically buy less “stuff” which leaves more money for things like rent, food, entertainment and bills. Remember, it is not just our houses that have gotten bigger – our expectations have too. Second, leave the car at home or sell it. How does that improve the rising costs of housing? With less cars, I see less parking spots required and more units built without the need for parking. Of course this means the TTC will get even busier during peak hours but that leads to my third point. Get involved, politically speaking as well. Let the provincial and federal government know that we need more subsidies for the TTC and it shouldn’t be subsidized by Toronto homeowners alone. I saw a shocking ad on the subway earlier this week that in 2010 c only $.84 of each ride was subsidized by Toronto property tax payers, but in Chicago each transit ride was subsidized $2.64. Apparently, the TTC is “the only system of its size that relies almost exclusively on property taxes to subsidize its operating costs.” Not only is public transportation cleaner for the city, it can change how investors look at different neighbourhoods moving the boundaries of “commutable living” beyond its current reach. Forth, one of the largest issues Toronto will face in creating affordable housing is bureaucracy. The city should work with investors and homeowners to figure out how to make the process easier to create legal basement suite or legally convert a single family dwelling into a duplex, triplex etc. I’m not suggesting that they approve everything, but create programs to help increase the number of housing units available in Toronto. And finally, we need to think about creating a better community for all. Take a look at what PARC and Habitat Services (as well as many other organizations, governments and individuals) did in creating Edmond Place – a new model of supportive housing for people with a history of mental health and addiction. To do more of this we need to believe that our community comes first. Let’s create incentives and tax rebates etc. for those wishing to legally convert single unit dwellings to multi-unit suites. Set up a FREE advisory board that will assist Torontonians with the conversion process and make it financially and logistically easy to access. Educate investors and the public on supportive housing and provide easier access to financial support to those interested in creating it. We can then look forward to more housing supply, greater housing options and SAFE homes that meet the needs of our fellow citizens. Mekler Property Management offers property management services in the Greater Toronto Area. For more information, please visit us at www.Mekler.ca - We help you be a landlord without being the landlord!