Vital Signs report: Toronto 2nd most unaffordable housing market in Canada

Toronto is the fourth most livable city in the world and one of the best places to do business, according to a 245-page report card on the city’s overall health released today. But the city is not without its challenges.

Average two-storey Toronto home now costs $691,000

Toronto is the second most unaffordable housing market in Canada. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Toronto is the fourth most livable city in the world and one of the best places to do business, according to a 245-page report card on the city’s overall health released today, but it's also the second most unaffordable housing market in Canada

The annual Vital Signs report by the Toronto Foundation examined everything from the economy to the environment to crime rates.

Rahul Bhardwaj, Toronto Foundation president and CEO, said Toronto clearly has a lot to be proud of, but the report points to some serious problems.

“It really puts our risk of livability in jeopardy," he said.

“Toronto doesn’t have simple problems. If we did, simple solutions would have solved them by now. We’ve got complex problems that are going to take some complex solutions. That takes a lot of discussing, a lot of listening and really rolling up your sleeves and dealing with some messy issues.”

Housing affordability — or the lack thereof — was one of the major issues highlighted in the Vital Signs report, which indicates Toronto is surpassed only by Vancouver in terms of unaffordability.

"As of July 2014, there were more than 170,000 people waiting for subsidized housing in the City of Toronto,” said Sara Goldvine with Toronto Community Housing.

“Families can wait over eight years just for access to a subsidized apartment in the City of Toronto.”

The average two-storey Toronto home costs $691,000, requiring a household income of at least $140,000. The average rental cost is over $1,100 a month.

By the numbers

  • The measure of median housing prices against median household income ranks Toronto 15th of the most unaffordable markets worldwide.
  • Toronto’s affordability index (the amount of pre-tax household income needed to cover home ownership at current market prices in) was 65.3 per cent for the first quarter of 2014.
  • The vacancy rate for purpose-built one-bedroom rental apartments in the GTA was 1.7 per cent in 2013.
  • The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Toronto Region in 2013 took up 40.6 per cent of the average wages of a fully employed youth, aged 15 to 24.
  • In Toronto, 45 per cent of people in their 20s live with their parents.
  • 260 new units of affordable rental housing opened in 2013, a drop of 77 per cent from 2012.

Greener city

The report also indicates Torontonians are living greener, using less water per person and recycling more.

More than 170,000 people in Toronto are waiting for subsidized housing. (iStock)

Water consumption dropped by 16 million litres per day between 2011 and 2012.

The amount of residential waste generated has increased for the past three years, but so has the percentage of how much is being diverted, reaching 53 per cent in 2013, up from 52 per cent in 2012 and 49 per cent in 2011.

The number of LEED certified buildings has increased by about 60 each year for the last two years.

Toronto is home to over 10 million trees of 116 different species, representing 16,000 trees for every square kilometre, or about 4 trees for each person.

With 1,600 parks, Toronto has more green per resident than many other large North American cities.

In 2012, overall greenhouse gas emissions were 25 per cent lower than in 1990, but the city didn't meet its target of a 20 per cent reduction in locally generated air quality pollutants from 2004 levels by 2012.

Human trafficking

Violent crime numbers overall are on the decline — for the seventh straight year, the Toronto region had the lowest rate of police-reported crime among the 33 Canadian census metropolitan areas. Across the Toronto region, the rate of violent crime declined by 8 per cent in 2013.

But human trafficking remains an issue in Toronto and at Pearson International Airport.

The report found that the GTA is the most common destination of human trafficking in Ontario, and that the city of Toronto is a hub for larger inter-provincial and international trafficking routes.

"Toronto acts as a hub for a number of human trafficking routes and the most common age of a trafficked person was 17 years old,” said Carly Sapoznik, president of the Toronto-based Alliance Against Modern Slavery.

More than half of the victims are Canadian citizens, Sapoznik said.

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