What was once a parking lot in Toronto’s Kensington Market has been transformed into an affordable housing project that will provide safe accommodation for 22 of the city’s most vulnerable residents.
Located at 25 Leonard Ave., the new three-storey rental building will be owned and operated by St. Clare’s, a charitable housing organization in Toronto. Inside, each unit is laid out like a studio apartment, equipped with a washroom, kitchen and combined sleeping and living space. Tenants will also have access to shared facilities such as a laundry area and the city will provide rent supplements that will allow the units to go for roughly 50 per cent of the average market rent — which amounts to $524 per month.
The announcement was made by the City of Toronto on Friday, and comes at a time when the homeless population are particularly at risk.
“The COVID-19 crisis has shown just how critical access to affordable housing is to our health,” said Toronto councillor Joe Cressy in a statement. “You can’t follow public health advice to stay home if you don’t have one. As Chair of the Board of Health, I know that projects like 25 Leonard will help improve the health of individuals experiencing homelessness and the community as a whole.”
The project cost roughly $5.4 million to construct with the help of several donors. Approximately $3.8 million in equity and mortgage financing was provided by St. Clare’s and another $1 million via a fundraising effort by RESCON, Ontario’s leading association of residential builders. The city also provided $500,000 in capital grants, plus fee waivers and property tax exemptions through the Open Door Program, in addition to a $150,000 development grant.
The apartments are part of an intensification project built next to another affordable housing building owned and managed by St. Clare’s. The new three-storey build has the work of two local artists incorporated into its design. Paintings by Margaux Smith can be found on light boxes under several windows at the front of the building and a laser-cut steel railing inspired by Leo Krukowski can be found along the side.
Congratulations to @stclare_housing on the opening of 22 new deeply #AffordableHousing units at 25 St Leonard Ave in #KensingtonMarket, purpose built to support people experiencing #homelessness in Toronto. Thanks to everyone who helped make this happen in #TOPoli..! #HousingTO pic.twitter.com/ZIzt5rSiFC
— HousingNowTO (@HousingNowTO) July 10, 2020
In a statement on Friday, Mayor John Tory said the project demonstrates what can be achieved when the city comes together to address housing in Toronto.
“Housing is vitally important, but we can’t do it alone, which is why the HousingTO Action Plan commits to implementation through partnerships and collaboration — exactly as what we see here with St. Clare’s, RESCON and the City of Toronto,” said Tory. “I want to thank all of our partners for bringing this project to life and for helping us provide stable, affordable housing for vulnerable residents in our city.”