He must sleep in his son’s room. How a Mississauga motion could help families like hers

Raheel Patel shares a one-bedroom apartment with her teenage son, as he cannot find two-bedroom accommodation. (Sent by Raheel Patel – image credit)

Raheel Patel sleeps on a bunk bed in a one-bedroom apartment in Mississauga because he can’t find a reasonably priced two-bedroom unit for him and his teenage son.

The single dad, who moved to the city six years ago, is well-educated and considers himself well-known in the local art community, having just completed a stint at the Art Gallery of Mississauga. But as a freelancer, he lives contract to contract and doesn’t have a high income — and he says searching through the few affordable multi-bedroom units in Mississauga has been daunting.

“I’ve seen people living, like, in a rat hole… in the basement, like, eight people,” he said. He describes another basement apartment he visited with bedrooms the size of small bathrooms.

With most of the few two-bedroom units he’s seen priced at $2,300 or more and after learning that affordable housing has a nearly decade-long waiting list in the city, he doesn’t know how to find a better living situation. In an effort to give his son his own space, he gave him a bedroom unit, sharing the space with him only for sleeping.

“I’m sinking,” he said.

Submitted by Raheel Patel

Submitted by Raheel Patel

But a motion passed by Mississauga City Council this week gave him hope. Councilors asked staff to prepare a report on the feasibility of mandating either a minimum number of two-bedroom units or more in new developments, or a maximum number of smaller units, such as studios or apartment units. ‘room. The proposal would also establish a minimum size for two- and three-bedroom units.

Patel likes the idea of ​​being close enough to his son’s work or school to walk and he hopes a larger supply will bring prices down to a level that families like his can afford.

“There is a demand”

Com. Stephen Dasko, who introduced the motion, says families like Patel’s, or high-income households ready to downsize, are exactly the ones the proposed changes seek to help.

Dasko says his office hears “an awful lot of requests” from families looking for more housing options, but at the same time he’s seen too many recent developments where most units are studios or bedrooms. He says he’s concerned that too many condo units are currently “investor units,” smaller spaces that are easier to sell and flip that leave families wanting.

“It’s not practical or healthy for anyone to raise a family in an environment like that,” he said, but he says he’s seen recent developments approved in his neighborhood where only 3% of units have three bedrooms.

Mike Smee/CBC

Mike Smee/CBC

Naama Blonder, an architect and urban planner with a company called Smart Density, says she also hopes the motion will give families the living space they need.

“Politics should be the last course we choose,” she said. “But given how well the market has responded to that need…it’s sort of our last solution.”

She says success in Mississauga isn’t just about building more rooms, it’s also about adding more child-friendly amenities like stroller parking, play areas or places for teens to hang out. to do their homework.

While Mississauga was once a bedroom community, it’s becoming increasingly urban, and housing options that reflect families’ new desires have yet to catch up, she says.

“There’s a demand from families who aren’t willing to go everywhere,” she said, “but the developers aren’t really doing what they’re supposed to be doing and coming up with a product to meet that demand. “.

Derek Hooper/CBC News

Derek Hooper/CBC News

But others aren’t so sure the motion is a good idea.

“I am not comfortable with the idea of ​​mandating and proposing a figure [of larger units]”Councillor Dipika Damerla told CBC Toronto.

“I don’t think that would work.”

Damerla says she believes that if there is a huge demand for larger units, it will be in developers’ interest to build them. She says if there are other obstacles, the city should work with the builders to overcome the obstacles.

Tina Mackenzie/CBC News

Tina Mackenzie/CBC News

One such barrier is the time it takes to build the skyscrapers, says Eric Lombardi of housing advocacy group More Neighbors Toronto.

“There aren’t really many buyers interested in three-bedroom units how long these developments take,” he said. Lombardi says families need good housing solutions faster.

Bilal Akhtar, his colleague from More Neighbors, says similar guidelines from Toronto offer warnings for Mississauga. He says multi-bedroom units don’t always mean more families, noting that in many units in Toronto, two single people often live together to save money. He also warns that more regulations could push developers out of Mississauga and build apartments in other cities.

But community attorney Rahul Mehta says the change would be a small, positive step to help more families stay in Mississauga, one of the few cities to see a decline in population between the 2016 and 2021 censuses.

“Many of the reasons newcomers leave town after arriving here are because they can’t afford to do what would be considered an upgrade to a bigger space,” he said. .

He says he would like to see more effort to ensure more of these family units are truly affordable, although increasing supply is a step.

“When you can’t afford it, everything else starts to get pushed aside,” Mehta said.

With new construction still in the works for years, he says, the motion is “too little, too late” for many.

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