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Allowing, and Permitting, Rooming Houses Could Solve Multiple Problems at Once

Abuses by landlords and poor living conditions are common in illegal rooming houses around Toronto. Activists want to make them easier to build, and regulate, to add affordable housing options for low-income residents.
February 15, 2019, 6am PST | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Ontario, Canada
Carlos Mendieta Gonzalez

West Scarborough Community Legal Services and anti-poverty activists are advocating for Toronto to amend its zoning bylaw to allow for rooming houses, reports Jason Miller.

"Today, rooming houses are illegal in Scarborough, as well as in parts of North York and Etobicoke," according to Miller. "Last year, city officials laid charges against several Scarborough rooming house landlords. That crackdown came following the death of 18-year-old Helen Guo, who died after a fire broke out at a residence at 10 Haida Ct., near the University of Toronto’s Scarborough campus."

Advocates believe a system of licensing and registration would help monitor rooming houses while giving low-income residents more affordable housing options.

The city is already experimenting with a new approach to rooming houses, spending "$1.5 million for a non-profit to buy and renovate a Parkdale rooming house, in order to keep those units on the market," as part of a pilot project.

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Published on Tuesday, February 12, 2019 in The Star
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