Housing as a Human Right: Understanding the Need to Align Toronto's Legal Planning Framework with City Council's Vision to End Homelessness & the Affordable Housing Crisis
While international law defines housing as a basic human right, many Torontonians are being denied access to secure, adequate and affordable housing. The primary objective of this article is to examine the interplay between city policy statements on ending homelessness through the maintenance and creation of affordable housing stock, and the legal mechanisms required to execute these policies. This article will begin with an examination of the goals of the Streets to Homes program implemented in 2005 and the most recent policy recommendations outlined in the 2008 report from city council entitled, Housing Opportunities Toronto: A framework for affordable housing. Following a brief introduction to these two government initiatives, it will be determined whether the existing legal planning framework coincides with the Toronto City Council’s vision to end the homelessness and affordable housing crisis by 2018. The legal mechanisms examined in this paper will include the Municipal Shelter by-law (2003), Section 37 of Ontario’s Planning Act, and the need to implement inclusionary zoning to facilitate the ability of the city and developers to respond to the homelessness crises in the long-term. When combined, these legal tools have the ability to support the creation of new, secure, adequate and affordable housing stock in the City of Toronto in both short- and long- term.