It is already known that housing market prices in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have been steadily rising for the past decade. Partially due to the financialization of housing, this creates unbalance and limits affordability, putting a strain on potential homeowners as well as those trying to sell their homes. Adding a global pandemic onto this creates a shaky, unreliable, and unpredictable situation even worse, causing the need to rethink the sustainability of the housing market. Ultimately, the consequences of this greatly affect the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, making this an even more urgent situation that needs to be addressed.
In his MITACS Accelerate research internship project with Tomar Realty on “Rethinking Housing Market Financing in the After math of COVID-19: Lessons from and Responses to the Pandemic,” PhD Candidate Murat Ucoglu aims not only to understand how the housing market has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also to decipher how to overcome the financialization of housing that restricts affordable housing options. This is done by shifting the way we think about how the housing system is being financed in order to make it more resilient, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Using the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), and especially the 905 suburban communities as a living laboratory during the lockdown and impending reopening, we seek to investigate the existing quantitative data on market activity in the housing markets in the GTA,” said Ucoglu regarding the specifics of his research project.
In his project, Ucoglu uses data from the current housing crisis to understand how to better organize and finance people’s housing to accommodate any future social and health crises that may arise. “What we need to grasp is how to create a new housing system that can provide a variety of affordable financial systems for the most vulnerable populations”, Murat added.
Ucoglu focuses on the suburbs, or the global periphery in his research. In their co-edited book on Massive Suburbanization: (Re)Building the Global Periphery (University of Toronto Press, 2019) with Murat Güney and Roger Keil, attempt is made to better understand the role of the marketization and financialization of land and housing in the building and rebuilding of housing and ancillary suburban landscapes in the peripheries of the cities. Offering a universal inter-referencing point for research on the dynamics of "massive suburbia," the book builds a new discussion pertaining to the problems of the urban periphery, urbanization, and the neoliberal production of space.
Conceptual and empirical chapters of the book revisit the classic cases of large-scale suburban building in Canada, the former Czechoslovakia, France, Germany, and the United States and examine the new peripheral estates in China, Egypt, Israel, Morocco, the Philippines, South Africa, and Turkey. Concerned with state and corporate policy for building suburban estates, the book confronts the politics surrounding local inhabitants and their "right to the suburb."
Ucoglu is a PhD candidate at York University in the Faculty of Environmental and Urban Change (EUC). His published works explore urban political economies, specifically the housing market in suburban Istanbul and Toronto.