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Beyond Shelters: An Urban Based Model to Alleviate Homelessness
The historic connection between homelessness and severe economic depression has disappeared as a shortage of affordable decent housing prevails even during periods of strong economic growth. New factors such as the reduction of low skill careers in manufacturing in favour of higher paid higher skilled positions are causing an increasing gap between the highest and lowest earning populations in Canada. Furthermore, shifting taxation rates have reduced the federal government’s ability to provide funding for affordable housing. As a result, current market based solutions are failing to meet the diverse housing needs of our communities, leaving some homeless and many others at imminent risk. Policy plays a large role in finding a solution to this crisis; however the means of applying any solution is intrinsically an architectural issue.
This thesis examines the state of homelessness in the city of Toronto and proposes a new and inclusive urban housing typology to better meet the city’s housing needs. The thesis is structured by three forms of inquiry: Firstly, an analysis of homelessness in Canada is used to identify the historic causes of homelessness. As well, the principle obstacles faced by key demographics are highlighted. Secondly, the thesis investigates existing responses to homelessness to identify the difference between reactionary responses and a more effective integrated city making approach. Finally, the lessons learned from earlier research are applied through the design of an inclusive housing typology, which, through a city making strategy, blends together residential, cultural, and commercial programming. The goal of this design proposal is to foster a richer urban community, which better serves the needs of the entire city.