Across the globe money is pouring into urban centres considered safe harbours for deep-pocketed investors. In the Toronto city centre nearly 100,000 condominium units were built between 2012 and 2016. In older residential areas the average selling price of a detached home has soared, leaping by 33 per cent in the past year alone. Meanwhile, 180,000 people are on the waiting list for subsidized housing and Toronto faces a $2.6 billion repair bill for existing social housing. Buildings too costly to fix are sold: 475 units are on the block this year.

This phenomenon is widespread across the industrialized world. The US has shuttered 10,000 units of federally subsidized housing every year since the 1970s. The right to shelter is recognized by the UN in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and more than 40 countries have declared housing a basic human right. Yet, the UN estimates more than 1.6 billion people worldwide lack adequate shelter and more than 100 million are homeless. They flock to temporary shelters or sleep in public buildings like railway stations or bus terminals. Others set up house on the pavement or erect simple houses from salvaged materials on waste land.