In the 2010s, Toronto Community Housing Corporation, the municipality’s social housing provider, made a strategic decision to narrow its portfolio to large multi-unit residential projects. At the time, TCHC owned more than 750 single family homes and small multi-unit buildings across the City. The scattered nature of the homes made maintenance and upkeep especially difficult, the units were in need of major repairs.
At first, the municipality intended to sell the units to the private market. While generating revenue, this move would jeopardize the housing security of hundreds of low-income households. After significant grassroots mobilization against the proposed sale, the municipality changed its strategy and issued a Request for Proposals from non-profit organizations interested in stewarding the units.
Ultimately, two community land trusts were awarded the transfer of the properties. The majority of units were transferred to Circle Community LandTrust, who owns and operates the housing. The Neighbourhood Land Trust received the remaining 153 units. NLT partnered with the YWCA to operate the units. While the NLT will own the buildings and be responsible for capital repairs and improvements, YWCA Toronto will operate them and act as landlord.
Both CLTs have signed an operating agreement with the city to ensure services are delivered as agreed and units remain affordable. Existing tenants will not lose their housing, their subsidy, or face rent increases.
This case demonstrates community land trusts’ ability to protect and preserve social housing units. It is a win-win-win situation.
- Tenants benefit by retaining their housing security and becoming community land trust members
- Community land trusts benefit by growing their portfolio and securing assets within the non-profit sector
- Government benefits by protecting their initial investments by keeping community housing assets out of the private sector