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A man walks past graffiti that reads ‘Rent Strike.’ Last week, hundreds of tenants in Toronto organized what they are calling the largest rent strike in the city’s history. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

How corporate landlords are eroding affordable housing — and prioritizing profits over human rights

One factor driving the housing crisis across the country is a shift away from publicly built housing toward large corporate-owned buildings where, as today’s guest Prof. Nemoy Lewis puts it, “housing is treated as a commodity, not a human right.”

For many people living in Canada, housing has emerged as one of the most challenging issues. This is especially true in our largest cities, where financial stress plagues many households.

Home ownership is widely out of reach and for renters, housing is scarce, expensive and precarious.

In Toronto, Canada’s largest city, vacancy rates are at their lowest levels in nearly two decades and average rents have jumped nearly 10 per cent — the sharpest increase in more than a decade. Last week’s rent strike in Toronto is just one indication that Canadians need solutions.

According to today’s guest, Prof. Nemoy Lewis from the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Toronto Metropolitan University, one of the factors driving this affordability crisis has been a shift away from publicly built housing toward large corporate-owned buildings. And the result, he says, is that now: “housing is treated as a commodity, rather than a human right.”

Prof. Nemoy discusses the disproportionate impacts these corporate landlords are having on Black and low-income communities — in income-polarized cities that are increasingly accessible to only a small group of wealthy people.

Rent strikers in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood in 2018. Their landlord was attempting to increase rent by more than rent control allows. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young)

Read more in TC

Read more: Multigenerational living: A strategy to cope with unaffordable housing?

Read more: Cities must take immediate action against 'renovictions' to address housing crisis

Read more: Five ways landlords unfairly control people's lives

Read more: What if we treat homelessness like a pandemic?

Read more: Publicly owned land should be used for affordable housing, not sold to private developers


A high-rise with balconies, some with signs that read: 'stop raising rents.'
Last week, hundreds of tenants in Toronto’s Lawrence West community organized what they say is the city largest rent strike. (@YSWtenants/X)

“The Uneven Racialized Impacts of Financialization” (A Report for the Office of the Federal Housing Advocate, June 2022) by Nemoy Lewis

The Tenant Class By Ricardo Tranjan

The Rise of the Corporate Landlord

Ethno-racial and nativity differences in the likelihood of living in affordable housing in Canada by Kate H. Choi and Sagi Ramaj (Housing Studies)

North York tenants join hundreds of Torontonians striking against above-guideline rent increases

Thorncliffe Park tenants protest above-limit rent hike (The Toronto Observer)

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