Habitat for Humanity GTA starts largest project in history with $1.5 million Toronto Foundation contribution

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Humanity Greater Toronto Area (Habitat GTA) celebrated the beginning of construction of its largest building project in the organization’s history – a 50-unit townhouse development at 140 Pinery Trail in Toronto’s east end.

Habitat GTA says the Pinery Trail project is the first build to use a new, denser build form of “back-to-back” stacked townhouses featuring 3-, 4- and 5-bedroom units. The project will be built in three phases and will house 50 working, low-income families by 2019.

In Habitat for Humanity’s model, these families will become homeowners by paying a no-interest mortgage, capped at 30% of their annual household income, and, in lieu of a down payment, each family contributes 500 ‘sweat equity’ volunteer hours toward the construction of their home and other Habitat homes.

 

Financing for the first block of 15 homes is being provided, in part, through a social impact investment from Toronto Foundation, the first of its kind in Canada, Habitat GTA says in a statement. This loan will augment funds and resources provided by individuals and corporate donors and will be paid back through mortgage payments from the 15 families who will become homeowners when this first phase is completed in 2017. Importantly, as a social impact investment it aims to generate positive and measurable social outcomes in addition to financial returns.

Mayor John Tory spoke to the crowd of Habitat partner families, staff and board members of Toronto Foundation, corporate partners, volunteers and community supporters gathered for the ribbon cutting ceremony about the crucial role affordable housing initiatives play in Toronto’s housing mix.

“We rely on organizations like Habitat for Humanity and Toronto Foundation as critical partners in building affordable housing for families in the city,” he said. “Today’s launch of Habitat for Humanity’s largest build project ever in Toronto and Toronto Foundation’s investment in this project is exactly the kind of action we were hoping for when we launched the Open Door program. The city is happy to support this project and do what we can to make it easier to build affordable housing at a faster pace,” said Mayor Tory.

“The GTA is so enriched by the diversity of our citizens, but there are thousands of families who just need a hand up so they can realize their full potential,” Ene Underwood, CEO of Habitat for Humanity GTA, said in a statement. “The Habitat for Humanity homeownership model provides that hand up and this new social impact investment partnership with Toronto Foundation will enable us to do that for ever increasing numbers of families.”

Habitat GTA says it will continue to fundraise for the in the next two years. “The organization is grateful for the generous support of the organizations that have already committed to support this Pinery Trail project including Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), Right at Home Realty, Great-West Life Realty Advisors and Great-West Life, Enbridge Gas Distribution and the Clark Family Foundation,” the news release said.

Photo:  Ribbon-cutting images from the Habitat GTA Facebook page.

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