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Over one third of GTA residents in one-bedroom apartment live in inadequate housing: Report

When preparing a meal for her family, Martha Lozada has to negotiate her bed around her teenage bed.

The curtain through the entrance of the kitchen barely serves as Rafi's privacy screen (14), and does nothing to protect ears from grinding and wrists in the kitchen.

Her two children tried to divide the room in their two-bedroom apartment in Flemingdon Park, but now, with both of them puberty, her son remains in the living room while her 16-year-old daughter occupies the second bedroom.

"I want to move to a bigger apartment, but I can not do it, because it's too expensive," Lozada said. "My son must stay in the living room."

The Loozada family lives in what Canada Statistics classifies as inadequate housing – missing enough bedrooms for the number of people they are accommodated in.

About 36 percent of households living in a one-room apartment in Greater Toronto and the Hamilton area are not properly accommodated, according to Canada's data in a recent Malone study In light of Parsons, a consulting firm for planning.

The figure is reduced to 21 per cent for those like Lozada, who live in two bedrooms.

The adequacy of housing refers to whether a private household lives in adequate housing, according to the National Employment Standard. Developed by the Mortgage and Housing Corporation in Canada, the eligibility requirement depends on whether the apartment has enough bedrooms for the size and composition of the household, and estimates the required number of bedrooms per household based on age, gender and relationships among members of the household.

Lozada, 50, who works at the Flemingdon Parking Ministry, moved here from the United States in 2009 with her husband and two children. They lived in the same apartment in St. Denis et al.

Living conditions of Losada are not uncommon in Flemingdon Park, where accessibility is a key obstacle to proper housing, said priest Beverly Williams, executive director of the Flemingdon Park Ministry.

"This is 100 percent what we see," said Williams. "I see cases when one-bedroom apartment is everything they can afford, but they are a family of six."

Williams, whose ministry has numerous programs, including a downtown community decline in Flemingdon Park, says he has witnessed varying degrees of unsatisfactory housing.

"I know about a family where the parents slept on the floor of the dining room of the mattress, and one bedroom is where all the children were," she said.

Williams said that the majority of residents in inadequate housing live in low-income housing and rent, largely met with refugees, immigrants and poor workers.

But the inadequate label is not limited to the margins of marginalized communities in Toronto.

Planner Matthew Corey, a resident of Toronto, a leading contributor to the PGG study titled "Greater Toronto" and "Hamilton" and Land Analysis Analysis in the area, said his life arrangement could be considered inadequate.

"I am technically in that situation, because I live in a bedroom and in the center of the city and I have two children," said Corey. "Technically I have to have at least two bedrooms."

Corey says that Lozada's dilemma is a difficult case of inadequate placement.

"If people decide to be, like myself, in that category, that's fine," said Corey. "If you do not have a choice – it's not good."

The national standard of employment stipulates that there should be no more than two persons in the bedroom. Children under five years of age on a different sex can reasonably share a bedroom; Children aged five years or older from the opposite sex should have separate bedrooms; Children under the age of 18 and the same sex can reasonably share a bedroom; and independent household members 18 years of age or older should have a separate bedroom, as well as parents or couples.

Using this measure, households requiring at least one additional bedroom face a degree of overcrowding.

The problem is more common among those who rent, according to another study by the Missing Medium Working Group of the Evergreen Housing Action Laboratory.

This study, also published this week, based on census data and Canada's numbers on mortgages and housing, found that the number of households in inadequate housing is 31 percent for those who rent, three times higher than those who own 8 percent.

"In our city there are many people living in inadequate housing," said Michelle Herman of Evergreen, a non-profit organization focused on housing. "Loads are the most difficult for those living in renting accommodation and it's the hardest for families."

The two Corey and the Germans said that much of the problem is due to a lack in the right mix of housing types, sizes and available locations in the city.

The German hopes that the study will encourage "gentle density" in the way of housing, secondary apartments, six-plexes: different forms that meet a wide range of needs.

"Our most vulnerable communities and families experience this at higher rates – the solutions have to be directed to our most vulnerable communities," said the German.

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Jason Miller is a general journalist in the Toronto Star.

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