The question “does every human have the right to shelter?” is an interesting one. At the outset, the answer would invariably be “Yes”.
Most of us could never imagine ourselves being unhoused. It is inconceivable for us to not have shelter from weather, to not have a safe place to live in, to not have a home you can call your own. How do you even hang on to a job, or raise a family, without a home?
I think we can all agree that it’s important for everyone to have a place they can call home.
Shelter is, after all, listed as a basic human right.
So why do we continue to nerf housing production in Canada’s largest city during a housing affordability crisis?
In a thriving city like Toronto that continues to attract a lot of people who want to live and work here, a proactive approach to providing new housing ought to be lauded.
Instead, it seems that every effort is made to oppose new developments, making the task of building new housing a gruelling one:
Shadow impacts. Height restrictions. Road width. Wrong zoning. Blocked views. Angular planes. Setbacks and stepbacks. Glass. One bedroom units. Traffic. Parking. Heritage. Fear of apartment dwellers. The list goes on.
Nearly every one of these reasons for building less are either arbitrary, subjective, or based on a form of vanity.
These things have a place and time. You can have your ancient zoning codes, your irrational hate for one bedroom units, your extreme heritage setbacks…
Just not during a housing crisis!
While it’s easy to take pot shots at developers who dare consider building something new in a community, the real losers are not in the dialog at all: namely, the future residents whose homes are on the chopping block.
If you happen to be safely housed, you are a direct beneficiary of housing that was planned before you arrived.
First, try to imagine where you would be without the housing opportunity you were afforded.
Then, try to imagine all the opportunities that opened up for you and the things you were able to build and accrue as a result of being housed.
Knowing how impactful a home can be for someone’s wellbeing, we should be creating a culture where we are stumbling over ourselves trying to find reasons to build more housing, instead of less.
If it is within us to limit it, it is certainly within us to expedite it.