New report draws attention to recession's impact on the community
Familiar features of Toronto's skyline, the city's many high-rise towers are clustered throughout the inner suburbs. There are more high-rise apartment towers here than in any other North American city outside of New York. And these towers are home to an increasing number of poor families, according to new United Way Toronto research.
"The findings of Vertical Poverty should give us all pause," said United Way Toronto, President and CEO, Susan McIsaac. "Not only is poverty becoming more concentrated geographically, it is also becoming concentrated vertically in inner suburban high-rise towers."
Poverty by Postal Code 2: Vertical Poverty is the latest in a series of United Way Toronto research studies that look at the nature and extent of poverty in our city. It's the first of its kind in Canada.
Six years ago, Poverty by Postal Code revealed that poverty is located in very specific areas of our city. Vertical Poverty picks up where Poverty by Postal Code left off by updating the data to 2006. The study also went one step further to look at the role of housing in community life by conducting nearly 3,000 interviews with high-rise tenants.
"The trend of poverty concentrating in specific neighbourhoods continues with four times as many high-poverty neighbourhoods today than thirty years ago," said McIsaac.
Toronto's low-income families are not only living in specific neighbourhoods, they're also concentrated in privately owned high-rise buildings in the inner suburbs.
And they're feeling a financial squeeze—the cost of rent is increasing, while average incomes have dropped. Families are struggling to get by, having to do more with less. In some cases, families must decide whether to pay the rent or put food on the table.
"Our entire community suffers when there are pockets of high poverty in our city," said McIsaac. "As problems rise in these neighbourhoods, people are more and more likely to move out. This can significantly weaken communities already struggling."
While Vertical Poverty identifies serious challenges to overcome, it also highlights many reasons to be hopeful, said McIsaac.
These towers are home to half a million people and are at the heart of communities across our city. The majority of people say their neighbourhoods are good place to live.
"We're encouraged that residents feel a strong sense of community in their buildings, but we all have a role to play in improving life in Toronto's towers," said McIsaac. "United we can make a difference. Together, we can ensure our city's neighbourhoods are vital and strong places to call home."