Social Reproduction in the Financialized City: Financialized Landlords, Multi-Family Rental Housing and Affordable Housing Strategies in the City of Toronto

Authors: Sophie O'Manique*, CUNY - Graduate Center
Topics: Urban Geography, Canada
Keywords: Urban, Financialization, Toronto, REITS, Social Reproduction
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/9/2021
Start / End Time: 1:30 PM / 2:45 PM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

In Toronto as of 2016, “financialized landlords” (August & Walks 2018, 128) have acquired ownership of over 44,000 apartment units, representing 17% of the city’s primary rental housing stock (Ibid, 128). An article in the business section of the national newspaper The Globe and Mail observed in early 2020 that “… seemingly out of nowhere, Canadian apartment buildings have become one of the hottest asset classes in the world…” (Kiladze, 2020). Scholars have documented the detrimental effects that this corporate consolidation of rental housing has on tenant well-being (Fields 2013, 2018) and access to affordable rental housing (Aalbers 2016). This paper endeavours to delineate the geographies of public investment in real estate investment trusts and other financial actors in Toronto to understand how public inputs are reshaping the rental housing landscape. Social reproduction (SR) theory is concerned with the activities and processes that exist outside of the realm of production in order to maintain the labouring force (Katz 2001). Following the lead of SR scholars who invite us to consider how dynamics we might not conventionally understand as being part and parcel of concerns around SR (Young, 2015; Roberts, 2013), this paper examines the context-specific modes through which state actors work to offload their responsibility for, and intensify the privatization of the means of SR. This paper identifies subsidies granted to rental housing owners by way of the city’s affordable housing plan (Housing Opportunities Toronto) as a key mode through which public investments are channelled into financial vehicles in Toronto.

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