While the burden of rising real estate prices is felt across Toronto, the pain is particularly acute in Parkdale, a neighbourhood historically home to a high density of affordable rental units. Over the past decade, Parkdale has lost 28 rooming houses to upscaling and renovictions, displacing nearly 350 low-income renters. Today, another 59 rooming houses have been identified as at-risk according to research by the Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust (PNLT).
To Toronto’s affordability crisis, PNLT offers an inspiring and powerful response: community ownership and stewardship of land. With a grant from the City of Toronto, donations, and financing from Vancity Community Investment Bank (VCIB), the Neighbourhood Land Trust made its first acquisition in April 2019: a 15-unit rooming house, now permanently preserved as affordable housing.
Inspired by PNLT’s mission, VCIB continued to explore new ways to scale and build momentum for the land trust model, and in October 2020, VCIB and PNLT launched a new impact investment program to do just that. The first-of-its-kind Preserve and Protect Guarantee Program will now support the Neighbourhood Land Trust to rapidly acquire at-risk affordable rental buildings in Parkdale as they are put up for sale, helping to fill a gap in existing funding for the preservation of affordable housing. To-date, over $4 million investment has been committed by five Canadian foundations.
“We’re inspired to see impact investors across sectors coming together to support an innovative solution that addresses the affordability crisis and helps facilitate an inclusive recovery for all. Following VCIB’s support for PNLT’s first acquisition in 2019, we’re pleased to now be able to co-develop a program that allows them to replicate that success and secure as many homes as possible, as quickly as possible.”
— Jay Ann Gilfoy, CEO, Vancity Community Investment Bank