The housing affordability crisis is a growing problem across Canada, one that is disproportionately affecting BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ communities who experience higher barriers to housing attainment due to historically discriminatory practices and social injustices that are still being perpetuated in today's housing market.
A majority of both consumers and REALTORS® believe Ontario’s rental process suffers from discrimination: 93% of Black REALTORS® and 60% of all consumers surveyed believe discrimination exists in the rental process, according to research conducted in partnership with Ipsos. In fact, 4 in 10 REALTORS® say they’ve seen a rental deal fall through due to discrimination, according to Fighting for Fair Housing, a new report from the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA) looking at diversity, equity, and inclusion in housing.
“There is a saying in real estate: today’s renters are tomorrow’s homeowners. For disadvantaged communities who have a hard enough time finding a great rental in a thriving community because of all the obstacles they face along the way, the dream of home ownership is just that – a dream,” said 2022 OREA President Stacey Evoy. “We cannot hope to solve Ontario’s housing affordability crisis without addressing the systemic racism that undermines fair and equitable access to homes across the housing spectrum.”
Through research and consultations with Brokerages, REALTORS®, government officials, regulators, consumers, sector-related organizations, and Ontarians, the Fighting for Fair Housing report makes 19 recommendations to eliminate racism and inequality in real estate and housing. These recommendations include:
“As the rising cost of housing and lack of supply continue to push prospective buyers out of the market, home ownership remains out of reach for many – and disadvantaged communities are at risk of falling even further behind. Building more homes alone isn’t going to improve accessibility to housing for BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ communities,” said Davelle Morrison, Broker at Bosley Real Estate Ltd. and Chair of OREA’s Presidential Advisory Group on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. “ As professionals in the industry, we have a unique opportunity to help more people in our province find a place to call home. The Ontario Government also has a key legislative role to play, especially when it comes to increasing equity and reducing discrimination in Ontario’s rental market or offering new, affordable ownership programs.”
In 2020, OREA struck the Presidential Advisory Group (PAG) on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) to better understand, address, and dismantle systemic racism in Ontario’s real estate and housing sectors. Through this work, the PAG has identified three areas for action, that seek to change policy, perceptions and attitudes around sector systemic racism through education, advocacy, and research.
Within organized real estate, one early achievement in this regard is the addition of a discrimination provision within the new Trust In Real Estate Services Act (TRESA) Code of Ethics, which explicitly requires compliance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. This change is a direct result of the PAG’s work and recommendations.
OREA will also be taking steps to review internal governance structures, board selection processes, policies, and more in order to increase BIPOC in leadership positions within real estate associations.
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