OCADFA’s Affordable Housing Co-Op

The Ontario College of Art & Design Faculty Association (OCADFA) is the union that represents
more than 600 faculty members, studio & academic technicians, and counsellors. OCADFA
was formed in 1965 to protect the rights and improve the working conditions of its members
and it is the only body that can negotiate its member’s terms of employment with OCAD U.
OCADFA became incorporated in 1991.

The Association is a member of the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Association
(OCUFA) and Canadian Association of University Teachers (CAUT).

Affordable housing is an issue that affects OCADFA members in unique and difficult ways.
Artists have historically struggled to find affordable housing that fits their income and their
practice. More than half our members are contract faculty and earn their income from making
art, teaching and other part time jobs. Access to affordable housing is a core issue that affects
our members’ lives and health. In particular, this is an issue that affects aging artists. OCADFA
can make a difference.

OCADFA is committed to building an alternative to market driven approaches to housing. We
believe that housing is a human right, and everyone deserves an affordable and stable home.
This is why OCADFA will commit to establishing the first OCADFA housing co-op.

OCADFA’s artist housing co-op will be owned by our members for our members, who are
comprised of permanent faculty, graduate students, studio technicians, IT staff, independent
artists and part/time sessional instructors.

The co-op will house up to 100 units that will include live/work studio spaces. The co-op can
be a standalone building or part of a larger construction with OCADFA’s units contained to one
section of the building and/or clusters of units in two or three projects.

OCADFA’s artist housing co-op will include a street-level artist-run gallery and performance
space (with a capacity to accommodate 200 or more people), a community studio
making/teaching/meeting space and an indoor play/arts and craft area for young children and

The curatorial focus of the art gallery and performance space will be public art for working
people with a focus on social change.

The OCADFA housing co-op will be within walking distance of OCAD university. The building
will be accessible, green and community-focused, and committed to social justice, including
food and economic justice. We are committed to harnessing our creativity and committed to
anti-racist and decolonialist work, and to challenging the injustices that heteropatriarchal,
ableist, and extractive capitalist structures create – for our members and for the communities
we live in.

OCADFA Objectives for Partnership with Developers of Social Housing

OBJECTIVE ONE: Meet the affordable housing crisis for our members

➔ Create a significant site of accessible housing for our members with enough units (at
least 30) to promote on-site community through OCADFA owned co-op nestled within a
mixed-income development.

It is well known that Toronto has a housing affordability crisis that continues to be
exacerbated as both rents and real estate values rise rapidly year over year. It is also a fact
that the basic cost of living has not kept pace with salaries in our city, particularly in areas of
the public sector, (a Provincial law, Bill 124, restricted any raise in compensation to 1%, a value less than the Bank of Canada’s target for annual inflation.) While the cost of housing
skyrockets, most faculty at OCADU are seeing their wages actually decline against inflation.

While the average after-tax household income calculated from the first quarter of 2020
Toronto was $102,675
, according to our survey data from the same quarter, only 57 of 162
respondents to our March 2020 membership survey reported a before-tax income from
employment at OCADU in excess of $50,000 annually. Many of these respondents have been
working at OCADU primarily for several years, meaning a year-over-year economic precarity
that significantly affects our members’ ability to live near the community centered around

320 of our 556 members in March 2020 are sessional instructors, who are capped at teaching
three courses a year. The average income for teaching a course is about $7200 before taxes,
or about $21,600 annually.

More than ⅔ of of these members have told us that they are long-term, committed members
of the OCADU faculty who either prioritize or balance their teaching with other opportunities.
In other words, they give their best to the OCADU community, but the cost of that
commitment is housing insecurity.

Our wish to build a bridge between OCADU faculty and the broader downtown cultural
community in Toronto cannot be accomplished without working to find ways to provide
affordable living spaces here for our members.

● A significant amount of our members are part of households with children and/or
parents. Therefore to meet our membership needs adequately there would need to be a
demographically suitable mix of studio, one bedroom, two bedroom and three bedroom
units in any build that OCADFA would own and manage as a co-op.

● OCADFA led housing projects will set aside a percentage of dedicated units for
Indigenous members.

OBJECTIVE TWO: Deploy pragmatic methods to create something extraordinary

➔ Partner strategically with development companies who share our goal of creating a
livable and culturally vibrant downtown Toronto

We will identify and work with with a partner who is aligned with our commitment to building
affordable housing, recognizes that housing is a human right, and supports OCADFA’s
commitment to our co-op values statement.

● OCADFA’s proposed partnership presents an excellent opportunity for a developer with
similar objectives to work with us to tap into governmental and other revenue streams
that might not otherwise be available to them.

● Partnering with a developer may mean working with them to approach the City to
amend an existing proposal to increase residential square footage in order to meet our
membership needs for affordable housing units.

● Not all of our membership is in need of deeply affordable housing, so an OCADFA co-op
with a reasonable proportion of units at market rate is something we are willing to

● Working with OCADFA offers a developer the chance to partner with an organization
that is deeply committed to accessibility, to designing spatial environments that reduce
mobility barriers, and to designing homes that allow dignity and comfort for those who
are not able-bodied, and those who wish to age in place.

● OCADFA’s participation in a development venture brings significant forms of cultural
capital to a proposal outside the traditional definition of monetary capital.

● OCADFA’s co-op will bring a participatory democratic approach to budgeting co-op

OCADFA is open to exploring the variety of existing revenue streams, as well as a fulsome
calculation of added value that our participation brings to a development, to ensure that any
project we participate in will be financially sustainable from our developer partner’s point of
view while meeting the needs of our members.

OBJECTIVE THREE: Bring our members’ art and design to the public
at street level and reframe art for working people as a basic ingredient
for a full, good life.

➔ Work with existing planning to create a cultural hub which brings OCADFA members’
capacities in creating, teaching and researching across a range of art and design
practices into a community identified by the city as a site for cultural regeneration.

➔ The OCADFA housing co-op offers a social model of world building that centres art
making as a life affirming practice essential for all people.

➔ OCADFA’s cultural hub will have a specific focus on art that challenges the inequities
assumed as normative in system designed by racial capitalism.

The OCADFA community has a long history of creating vibrant cultural spaces in the City of
Toronto that contribute to its standing as a world-class city and a great place for people to
live. The presence of working, productive, inclusive and transformative art and design
community spaces has historically led to increased employment, a better quality of life for
citizens, and for the creation of cohesive neighborhoods where systemic inequities can be
negotiated and metabolized into new civic forms.

In particular, the opportunities that an OCADFA helmed site of cultural work and
communications presents would bring immense value to underserved young people in urban
areas, and could work to combat the epidemic of anomie and loneliness that is increasingly
being identified by public health scientists as a social determinant of health.

● Currently the City has identified several Regeneration Areas with a particular mandate:
Regeneration Areas open up unique areas of the City to a wide array of uses to help attract
investment, re-use buildings, encourage new construction and bring life to the streets. These
areas are key to the Plan’s growth strategy, reintegrating areas of the City that are no longer in
productive urban use due to shifts in the local or global economies. In Regeneration Areas,
commercial, residential, live/work, institutional and light industrial uses can be mixed within
the same block or even the same building.

● The proximity of an OCADFA co-op to a publicly accessible art and culture facility will
ensure dynamism, growth, and quite frankly what we predict would be an explosion of
creativity that would promote well-being in the city and improve the quality of life for
everyone in the neighborhood.

● OCADFA members would be in an excellent position to advise and create programming
at such a cultural facility.

● Having a site such as this connected by proximity to an OCADFA housing co-op
presents enormous opportunities for cultural growth which would both meet and
exceed the needs of our members to participate in a vibrant community of artists,
designers, poets and makers of change. For instance, it could be suggested that
participating in events and programming could be a requirement of membership in the

OBJECTIVE FOUR: Build a proof-of-concept to enable other
regenerative, human-sized city developments in Toronto

➔ Develop a strategy through this project that is scalable and provides a method for other
community organizations and labour unions to reimagine their role in building social
and affordable housing for members

By putting in the work to develop a successful methodology for a partnership like this,
OCADFA will offer partners a valuable asset. When we are successful, we will work with our
developer partners to analyze the outcomes of the project and identify methods that could be
successfully transferred to projects with other non-profits and labour unions.

● This would position both OCADFA and our partners to pursue future projects with less

● Any partner we engage with successfully will enjoy an enhanced reputation when
engaging with future clients

● As the affordability crisis continues to deepen, it is likely that affordable housing
solutions will become even more of a priority for various governing and regulatory
bodies. We would be pleased to work with all partners to create a proof-of-concept that
would facilitate their future work with us and with other non-profit organizations.

● We are aware that it is becoming more common for the city to approve developments
for density on the condition that they incorporate a certain dollar value of affordable
units. OCADFA will partner with developers who are socially responsible.

● OCADFA will continue to advocate for social housing on all fronts with all levels of
government and community partners

Partnering with OCADFA will bring immense value, capital and otherwise, to our
developer partner not only for a specific build, but for that firm’s intangible