Future City Builders Toronto kicks off its housing lab!




During our first session at the Red Academy, folks started rolling in, excited to get things started while enjoying some food from Zezafoun. This introductory session was all about getting to know each other, as well as the work that YouthfulCities, Evergreen and RBC are doing, and how we all ended up there together.

To get to know everyone a bit better, everyone had brought in two artifacts - one they’ve had for a while, and one they’ve recently gotten attached to - and we went around the room, everyone telling a short story of why their artifacts are meaningful to them.


This ice-breaker works well because people don’t like to talk about themselves, but love to talk about their items. Through it you quickly learn more about the person and who they are.

We did a thermometer icebreaker to start a discussion about the issue at hand - housing. It was shocking/comforting to learn how many of us experienced extreme issues being housed in this city. Many of us had been unjustly evicted before, had to commute from our homes 2 hours away, and paid too much of our income towards housing.


We then dived deep into why we chose the topic and how we want participants to start tackling it. It seems every day, a new headline comes out stating the obvious - housing in Toronto is in crisis. Rents have skyrocketed in the past 20 years and those who grew up in the city and those who have moved here are having a hard time to remain. But there is more to housing than the price point that prevents people from being housed. Systems like transportation, politics, economics, policing, and immigration all intersect with housing to create challenges to house all of Toronto’s population. How can we look beyond the paralyzing affordability crisis to see housing as a point in an urban network that connects to many other? We believe that by focusing on these intersecting connections we can generate more creative solutions. We convened the 30Lab to seek solutions to housing in the city that aim to tackle housing from all angles.


We moved on to a discussed the 30Lab, and how things would run moving forward, and what the upcoming sessions would look like. We made a community agreement collectively, so that we could ensure everyone feels safe and comfortable in the space we shared. Before parting, we came up with questions for a survey participants would send out, regarding youth and housing in Toronto.


Big shoutout to Red Academy for hosting us, and to Sara for all your support and help with our 30Lab!

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