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United Way Greater Toronto unveils “OpenHouse” to Highlight need for Action on Affordable Rentals

Toronto, September 24, 2023 – United Way Greater Toronto, in collaboration with creative agency Sid Lee, turned a 150 sq ft. residential parking spot into an affordable one-bedroom rental opportunity for $250/month illustrating how the combination of rising rent and stagnant wages has left many feeling that the only space they can afford to live in is no larger than a parking spot. The OpenHouse exhibit was held on the evening of September 23rd, alongside other activities taking place in the city of Toronto, to invite people to get a first-hand look at the “rental unit” and discover how they can be part of the solution to help.

In Toronto, the average one-bedroom condo apartment rent was $2,532 in 2023, an 11.6% increase compared to 2022. The average two-bedroom apartment rent has gone up by 9.2% over the same period to $3,264 according to the Rental Market Report of 2023. The housing crisis happening across the country, and especially in the GTA, needs real action and attention. During OpenHouse, the public, media and key people in the industry were invited to learn more about critical policy changes including, rent control, inclusionary zoning and rental unit replacement, and be given the tools to spread greater awareness.

“As we walk through this transformed parking space, we’re not just witnessing a visual representation of the crisis; we’re seeing firsthand of the housing struggle that so many in our community endure every day. It’s a reminder that behind the statistics are real people, real families, and real dreams that are slipping away.” says Daniele Zanotti, President and CEO of United Way Greater Toronto.

For the past few years, United Way Greater Toronto is working to address the full continuum of housing challenges from homelessness and supportive housing to rental affordability including the work UWGT undertakes to meet immediate needs for many facing housing insecurity and homelessness. UWGT is also convening business, government, and the community sector to examine emerging and innovative solutions, researching and advocating for meaningful policy changes while investing in community land trusts in Toronto and York as well as partnerships like Parkdale’s Social Medicine Initiative with UHN and the City of Toronto.

“The data is clear: the housing affordability crisis in the GTHA has been at a breaking point for years. However, the numbers alone cannot convey the human toll. OpenHouse serves as a vital conversation starter by focusing attention on the realities faced by so many lower and increasingly middle- income households. OpenHouse highlights why we need to preserve existing affordable housing and ensure that new builds are affordable to lower-income renters, a demographic often overshadowed in discussions dominated by homeownership. The Canadian Centre for Housing Rights is proud to work alongside partners like United Way Greater Toronto to leverage research, advocacy, and collaborative efforts to address the housing affordability crisis with a systematic and comprehensive approach that leaves no one behind.” shared Annie Hodgins, Executive Director at Canadian Centre for Housing Rights.

A short video about the exhibit will be released in the upcoming days and will be found on social media platforms. To learn more about this initiative visit our OpenHouse page.

Media contact: 

Joshua McLarnon
Director of Communications, United Way Greater Toronto

Kaïsha Ferres-Oxime,
Public Relations, Coordinator, Sid Lee

About United Way: As the largest non-government funder of community services in the GTA, United Way Greater Toronto reinforces a crucial community safety net to support people living in poverty. United Way’s network of agencies and initiatives in neighbourhoods across Peel, Toronto and York Region works to ensure that everyone has access to the programs and services they need to thrive. Mobilizing community support, United Way’s work is rooted in ground-breaking research, strategic leadership, local advocacy and cross-sectoral partnerships committed to building a more equitable region and lasting solutions to the GTA’s greatest challenges.  

 About Sid Lee

Sid Lee is a multidisciplinary creative collective striving to make a difference and celebrate culture with bold ideas. Its 700 professionals work as one team from offices in Montreal, Toronto, New York, Paris, London, Los Angeles and Seattle. Their mission is to create what matters through brand building, brand expression and brand experience. Its creative community also includes Yard, Digital Kitchen, BIMM and Haigo.

Alongside progressive clients, Sid Lee draws on its rich collection of disciplines, from design to data and experiential communication and technology to advertising and architecture, empowering its clients to outperform their competitors, earn the trust of their customers and increase their influence on culture.

Sid Lee is a member of kyu, a collective of top-tier global creative companies established by Hakuhodo DY Holdings. Sid Lee also imagined C2 Montréal, one of the largest creative-business conferences in the world.


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