News / Toronto

Photo exhibit explores personal stories behind Toronto's housing crisis

"It's too easy for social issues like housing to turn into statistics," says designer Jay Wall.

Lia and Alex Sharpe ponder some renovations on their east end laneway home. “Creative infill” like laneway homes is a way to add housing supply in Toronto’s downtown core, says Evergreen City Works’ Housing Action Lab.

Courtesy Nick Kozak

Lia and Alex Sharpe ponder some renovations on their east end laneway home. “Creative infill” like laneway homes is a way to add housing supply in Toronto’s downtown core, says Evergreen City Works’ Housing Action Lab.

A new photography exhibit at the Evergreen Brick Works is putting a human face on Toronto’s housing crisis.

Evergreen’s City Works wing, along with designer Jay Wall and photographer Nick Kozak teamed up to document the lives of residents living with the lack of affordable housing in the city.

Whether it’s a single mother with no idea where her family will live next month or a hip young couple living in a laneway house, The Many Faces of Housing exhibit puts a personal spin on one of Toronto’s most pressing issues.

“One in five families in the GTA lives in a house that’s too small, in disrepair or unaffordable,” Wall said. “But we don’t want to talk about it just in terms of statistics. We wanted  to show real people who are experiencing these situations.

“You react to a number totally differently if it’s paired with an image of someone in their home.”

Each of the exhibit’s nine panels display one of Kozak’s photographs – which allude to problems in housing – alongside solutions envisioned by Evergreen’s Housing Action Lab.

Some of the fixes include investments in tower renewal or new incentives for developers to build rental units as opposed to condos.

“This is a shared problem. We need to think not only about our own personal housing needs, but also acknowledge the bigger systemic reality,” said City Works director Robert Plitt.

Ultimately, Wall hopes that showcasing the human side of the housing crunch will encourage the city’s leaders to fix it.

“There are real, workable solutions out there. We just need the political will,” he said.

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