Everyone deserves a clean, safe, affordable place to live. The issue we're facing in Toronto is that we're missing homes at many levels. Studying the picture above from CMHC, you can see the continuum of housing; here in our city, the pace of construction of housing at all levels, with the exception of market home ownership, hasn't kept pace with the demand. It hasn't kept pace for decades. We really need to get creative in how we think about housing. Home ownership is an ideal for some, but in today's mobile, global society, it's impractical for some workers. Yet where can they rent? Imagine if the only place there is sufficient stock is the street ("homelessness") or very expensive homes where the individual or family need a huge down payment for even a small condo space ("market home ownership"). That just won't work. And right now, that's very close to where we stand here in Toronto.
If you click on the image above, it will take you to the City's briefing notes for the incoming Council on affordable housing. Soon they're going to make decisions about Toronto's housing strategy for the next decade - from 2020 to 2030. That means that (a), we're currently working from a strategy that was written about a decade ago when things were very different, and (b), that we need to get it right, because we'll feel the impacts of their decisions for a very long time. So how can you, a member of the public, get involved? This chart shows the various places and ways the public can get informed, provide feedback and advice, and help. And here's where you can find out how and when to engage with initiatives, appointments, committees, or volunteer activities.
Let's put our collective energies and ideas together, and make sure we create a City that has a home for everyone.
Do you volunteer? Do you give to charitable organizations? Are you helping strangers?
Strange questions, I know. But here is something I have learned, and which continued to be reinforced during the time I was travelling our community, meeting people at their doors, in their homes, at their organizations' offices: when we give through food banks, or donate to charities, we're not just helping strangers. We're often helping neighbours. The people who need help from those of us who can give it aren't just "others". They are just as likely to be a neighbour, a friend, a colleague, or a connection. Poverty is everywhere, and when we fight hunger, homelessness, and illiteracy, you may be helping right next door. With that in mind, during this season of giving, please be as generous as possible.
How are you feeling?
It's an interesting question, one I've been asked frequently since this time last month, when I had just lost an election. The answer? Just fine. Satisfied. Relaxed. You see, I believe it is always worth it to try something that seems like a huge challenge, even if it doesn't work out. That's because I subscribe to the Jim Rohn philosophy of, "You win or you learn".
So, I'm still trying to find just the right way to make a big difference in my community. In the meantime, I know that many small differences add up over time, just like compound interest. So while I'm working on the next big thing, I look for a way to do some small thing, every single day. And I'm confident that I learned something that's going to come in handy. I set an example for many people (they've told me so), so how can it not be worth it?
Change agent. Recovering political candidate. Committed to building community. Always looking forward.