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Implications of COVID-19: Providing Affordable Housing in a Post-Pandemic World

May 5 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm


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The University of Toronto Association of Geography Alumni (UTAGA) and The Toronto Undergraduate Geography Society (TUGS) are pleased to host a panel discussion on the growing problem of housing affordability in the GTA in a post-pandemic world.

Housing affordability has been a hot issue in Toronto, and in many other Global (and indeed smaller) Cities, for decades, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only served to make it much more acute. Despite predictions of price decreases, since 2020 the home index price has risen 13% and increasing prices have raised ongoing concerns about the affordability of housing in GTA municipalities. Several Canadian municipalities have already declared a housing crisis and the Federal Government has pledged $1 Billion to construct new affordable housing and supportive housing units through the Rapid Housing Initiative. However much remains to be addressed. It is within this uncertainty that we ask five panelists to speak to the issue of housing affordability in Toronto. Specifically, we ask our panelists about the nature of the housing future they envision for the GTA and what issues stand to impede or aid the realization of these futures going forward.

UTAGA and TUGS are pleased to host a panel discussion that focuses on the housing affordability crisis in the GTA, with an emphasis on causes, effects, and possible public policy responses. Our panelists include professionals and scholars who approach the issue from a variety of perspectives including those from the real estate market analysis and affordable housing planning industries, from academic planning and human geographic sectors on rights to the city and equity and from the perspective of housing economics.



Jennifer Keesmaat
Partner, Markee Developments / CEO, The Keesmaat Group / Former Chief City Planner, City of Toronto

Jennifer Keesmaat is an urban planner named one of the “most powerful people in Canada” by Macleans, one of the “most influential” by Toronto Life, and one of the top Women of Influence in Canada. She spent half a decade as Toronto’s Chief City Planner, where she was celebrated for her forward thinking and collaborative approach to city-building. In 2016 Jennifer was awarded the Canadian Institute of Planners Award of Excellence. Keesmaat is a founding partner of Markee Developments, and she is now developing new communities across the GTA as sustainable, liveable places that prioritize access to high quality, affordable rental housing. Jennifer serves on the Advisory Board of the Urban Land Institute, the International Panel of Experts for the Singapore Redevelopment Authority, the President’s Advisory Council for Planning and Development at Ohio State University, and as a Board member for May Mobility.

Nemoy Lewis
Provost Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Geography & Planning, University of Toronto

Dr. Lewis is currently a Provost’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography and Planning at the University of Toronto. His postdoctoral research explores how space is racialized by examining the co-production of racialization and financialization in Canada’s urban housing markets. For his doctoral research, Nemoy analyzed the ongoing foreclosures crisis in the United States and how it has affected the lives of Black people and low-income communities in Chicago, Illinois and Jacksonville, Florida. Nemoy’s currently conducting a comparative study of two cities, Toronto and Montreal, to investigate whether financialized landlords’ concerns over profits and investors’ interests are leading to a gentrification of racialized communities, further exacerbating the problems of affordability and displacement.

Jason Mercer
Chief Market Analyst & Director of Service Channels, Toronto Real Estate Board

Jason Mercer is the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board’s Chief Market Analyst and Director of Service Channels. He leads TRREB’s market analysis program that provides products and services that help REALTORS® and their clients fully understand trends in the GTA housing market and underlying economic drivers. Jason also oversees TRREB’s MLS® Services Department and the delivery of information and data products to the TRREB Membership. Jason has private and public sector experience in the real estate industry, having previously held positions at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. He possesses a Bachelor of Arts degree from Simon Fraser University and a Master of Science in Planning degree from the University of Toronto. Jason is a Member of the Canadian Institute of Planners, a Registered Professional Planner with the Ontario Professional Planners Institute and a Member of Lambda Alpha International, the Land Economics Society.

Abigail Moriah
Professional Planner & Founder, The Black Planning Project

Abigail Moriah is a development consultant and urban planner with 10+ years of experience developing social and affordable housing in the nonprofit and public sectors. Committed to an approach that is community-centred, equity-based and builds bridges across practitioners, scholars, and community, Abigail has collaborated on several initiatives to connect, support and create access for BIPOC planners and contribute to knowledge and highlight Black perspectives in planning.

Diana Petramala
Senior Economist, Centre for Urban Research and Land Development, Ryerson University

Diana’s research at CUR focuses on economic, urban policy and real estate issues. She has spent the last three years highlighting how demographic and economic trends would impact housing affordability in the Greater Toronto Area.  Prior to joining the Centre, Diana was TD Bank’s housing and real estate expert.


Eli Singer
Founder & CEO, NearNow

Eli’s work has been featured in Harvard Business Review and The Globe & Mail, and he has won industry awards including the CMA’s “Top 30 Under 30” for his groundbreaking work in digital media. Over 20 years of digital marketing and innovation experience in corporate roles and startups. Eli founded Entrinsic, a social agency acquired in 2014. He has been active as a Founder, consultant and angel investor in markets such as high-tech, healthcare, energy, automotive, cannabis and SaaS software. Eli has spoken as a keynote/panelist at global conferences hosted by organizations including PRSA and The Conference Board. He holds an HBA from the Ivey Business School.

Click here to register.


May 5
7:00 pm - 8:30 pm