ROOMING HOUSE PRESERVATION POLICY ACTION

PNLT Launches Saving Room Report

Toronto is in the midst of an affordable housing crisis: we can’t afford to lose any of the affordable housing we already have. Rooming houses must be protected!

Fortunately, Toronto is finally taking action to slow the loss of rooming houses in our city.  The City is currently looking to change Toronto’s Official Plan to ensure that dwelling rooms that are lost as a result of development are replaced. This is a step in the right direction, but a more comprehensive framework of policies and programs that deal with the protection and preservation of dwelling rooms is still needed. 

Public consultations on these proposed Official Plan amendments are scheduled for November 26th (Etobicoke), 27th (Downtown), 28th (North York), and 29th (Scarborough). Click here for details.  

As our city considers new policies to protect dwelling rooms, we believe it’s important to draw upon the experiences of other cities. To help inform the discussion, we are releasing the report, Saving room: Community action and municipal policy to protect dwelling room stock in North American cities,” by Emily Paradis, PhD. Download the Executive Summary here or Full Report here. The report looks at the comprehensive approaches other cities have developed to effectively prevent and respond to the loss of dwelling rooms in their cities.

Learning from these examples, it’s clear that Toronto needs a comprehensive framework that includes the following:
  1. regulations that put restrictions on the conversion, demolition, and renovation of rooming houses;
  2. programs that facilitate the transfer of ownership of private rooming houses to non-profits, and
  3. support for tenant education and advocacy.

 

We encourage you to read the report and/or the Executive Summary and attend one of the City’s public consultations

Want to get involved in PNLT’s efforts? Join the Rooming House Preservation Policy Working Group!

This report was created as part of the Parkdale Rooming House Stabilization, Eviction Prevention and Preservation Strategy: an initiative of four collaborating agencies (PNLT, PARC, Parkdale Community Legal Services and Woodgreen) that are working together with tenants to preserve and protect Parkdale’s affordable rooming house stock. Our hope is that this jurisdictional scan on dwelling room protection policy can inform policy development, advocacy and organizing in Toronto.

This report was made possible through the support of the Local Poverty Reduction Fund of the Government of Ontario, which is administered by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Thank you to Maytree for its support with editing and production.

The overall strategy has received additional investment from the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, The Law Foundation of Ontario and Cota, as well as over 100 members of the Parkdale Community.

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BACKGROUND:

As real estate values across the city have climbed, the loss of rooming houses due to development has quickly escalated. People across the city are being forced from their homes and into homelessness to make way for housing for more affluent people.  

Last year, the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust conducted research on rooming houses in Parkdale. The Parkdale Rooming House Study confirmed an alarming trend that many of us are well aware of: the ongoing loss of rooming houses, with 28 rooming houses in Parkdale shut down over the past 10 years, resulting in 350 vulnerable people being evicted from their homes. The study found that there are 198 rooming houses left in Parkdale that offer affordable options for over 2,700 low-income tenants. These tenants are predominantly persons with disabilities, unattached individuals aged 45 to 64, and/or newcomers. However, the study determined that 59 of those rooming houses could soon be lost due to development, making over 800 rooming house tenants in Parkdale at high risk of becoming homeless.

And that’s just in one Toronto neighbourhood.