The Greater Toronto Area’s housing crisis has seen its fair share of unrealistic standards of affordability that complicate the daily challenges of modern living. In a demonstration this past weekend, United Way Greater Toronto and creative agency SidLee confronted people with what many Torontonians can afford for rent, and that's a 150 ft² space equivalent to a parking spot — and one was furnished to call attention to the issue. 

Floor plan for modern city living concept, image from UnitedWay Greater Toronto


A pop-up exhibit located at 80 Atlantic Avenue in Toronto’s Liberty Village titled “Open House” ran this past Saturday, displaying the complexity of stagnant wages, rising rents, and tight choices on food, income, and housing security.

A spokesperson for the United Way explained the creative process behind transforming the 150 ft² parking spot into the same size one-bedroom rental unit; the average monthly rent for a parking spot in Toronto is $250 per month, attainable for many Torontonians, but if the same 150 ft² were to be built for residential use, the average price would go for $2,532 per month, according to Toronto Region Real Estate Board’s latest report. 

150-square-foot parking space bedroom replica, image from SidLee


The converted modern city living space included a brightly lit and fully furnished open concept that includes a bedroom, dining room and living room. Along with a bedroom titled “Room without a view” showcasing the lack of innovative solutions to the crisis so far, notecards displayed the cycle of United Way’s work, the little space within the living room explains the lack of social interactions units provide, and the dining room may be a choice between food and rent, with more than 2.8 million Ontarians living in a food insecure household. 

"Room without a view", image by Natalie Koper


During Open House, discussions highlighted the need of all stakeholders and critical policy changes such as protecting current rent supply, focusing on rent control, and balancing out partnerships across public, private, and not-for-profit projects as next steps. The United Way is hoping the public can “see firsthand the housing struggle that so many in our community endure every day” as the release said. 

Speaking with UrbanToronto, Daniele Zanotti, President and Chief Executive Officer at United Way Greater Toronto, stated the ripple effect housing affordability can have on all aspects of livability and well-being now more than ever. Pressure on increasing government-funded programs and services such as OntarioWorks, Ontario Disability Support Program, and investing in community land trusts are among the efforts to address the crisis so far. 

Going forward, policy changes to tackle the housing crisis are taking perspectives from both macro issues such as the pandemic’s effects on housing, the current market economy and inflation combined with micropolitics on local policy within Toronto, and what citizens can achieve through calls for action to local elected representatives. 

To learn more of United Way’s discussions on Toronto's housing crisis and or ways to donate, visit

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