Circle Community LandTrust is a non-profit corporation founded to preserve and invest in the future of Toronto Community Housing’s scattered-unit portfolio.
Circle was founded by people who work in the non-profit sector who know just how important these houses are for the people who live in them, and for future generations.
A community land trust is a non-profit organization that owns and holds land to benefit the community.
Some land trusts are neighbourhood-based. Circle is a city-wide land trust focused on the benefits that begin with a quality affordable home.
That is our aim. But first we need to do our due diligence, including inspecting a sample of houses and reviewing documents related to the houses. We will then work closely with Toronto Community Housing and the City of Toronto to transfer ownership of all scattered houses except those on the west side of the city, which will be transferred to another housing provider.
Circle will hire its own staff, including a Maintenance Team, Tenant Services Team and an Asset Management Team to manage major renovations. These are the staff tenants will contact on a day-to-day basis.
Circle also plans to enter into an agreement with WoodGreen Community Services for “back-office” services such as IT and property management software, accounting, payroll, and after-hours emergency response services.
We think that scattered houses — some of the last affordable, family-sized houses in Toronto — are a valuable community asset. We want to invest in these houses to bring them to a good state of repair and provide management tailored to a scattered house portfolio.
Circle’s Board is accountable to the City of Toronto through the terms of the transfer, an Operating Agreement and a Social Housing Agreement. Like all non-profit housing providers that receive funds from the City we will be reporting regularly to the City to demonstrate these agreements are being upheld.
No. Circle was formed to keep houses off the market and preserve them as affordable housing in perpetuity. We will sign an agreement with the City to ensure the houses remain part of Toronto's affordable housing stock. If a house turns out to be both uninhabitable and irreparable, we would seek direction from the City.
You won’t see any change in your rents because of this transfer. If you receive RGI assistance now, you will continue to receive it. If your income goes up, so will your rent — just as it does now.
If you now pay market rent, you can expect your rent to go up once a year as set out in the Provincial Rent Increase Guideline. The 2021 Rent Increase Guideline has been set at 0.0%.
No. Tenants can stay in their home, protected by the provincial Residential Tenancies Act, just as they can now.
Circle will hire managers and staff focused entirely on the scattered unit portfolio. We will also hire an Asset Management Team to co-ordinate a $70 Million multi-year renovations project to bring all houses into a state of good repair.
Yes. In fact, we plan to expand the number of Rent-Geared-to-Income units. Market rent tenants can stay in their homes as long as they like. But when they move out we will house a tenant eligible for an RGI subsidy.
No, not as a result of the transfer. These rules are set by the Ontario Government and the City of Toronto.
The City sets rules about over-housing and we will follow these rules. Housing providers create their own transfer policies which include approaches to under-housing. We will be developing these rules in consultation with tenants.
Yes. Before Circle was incorporated, founding members met with a number of tenants who were active in the Tenants4SocialHousing – the tenant group that organized to protect their homes in 2011.
That group of current and former tenants continued to meet as Circle's Tenant Advisory Group and informed Circle's tenant engagement strategy, maintenance plan and capital repair plans.
Circle also developed a plan for broader tenant consultations. The Request for Proposal rules prevented Circle from carrying out that work. However, these plans were a catalyst for Tenants First to contract with St. Stephens (now The Neighbourhood Group) to conduct consultations on the City's behalf. The results of those consultations were part of the City’s Request for Proposals and informed Circle’s own proposal.
Circle, the City’s Tenants First team and Toronto Community Housing will work together to convene tenant meetings to introduce Circle and answer questions about the transfer.
Circle also looks forward to re-instating the Tenant Advisory Group to inform the development of Circle’s tenant-facing policies and practices. All scattered house tenants are welcomed to join this group. To join, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
As part of our proposal to the City, Circle developed a Tenant Engagement Plan based on our discussions with our Tenant Advisory Group. That plan included expanded opportunities for tenants to have a say over their homes, and to increase connections with other tenants in their neighbourhood.
One element of the plan is to expand the Circle Board from six to nine directors to include three tenants on the Board. Tenant directors will not be “tenant reps.” They will be full directors with the same obligations as other directors to make decisions in the best interest of Circle Community LandTrust.
During the lead-up to transfer Circle will confer with the Tenant Advisory Group on the approach to selecting the first tenant directors.
The City’s Tenants First team and Toronto Community Housing jointly issued a Request for Proposals to own and manage Toronto Community Housing’s scattered houses. The houses were divided into six geographically-based bundles. Circle was selected as the top proponent on five of the six bundles.
On October 27, 2020 City Council directed Toronto Community Housing staff to begin discussions with the top proponents and enter into agreements with the successful proponent. In June 2021, Circle entered into an agreement with Toronto Community Housing.
The next step is a six-month due diligence period. Circle will inspect a sample of the houses and review legal, maintenance and financial files related to the houses. If the information we collect matches the information provided through the Request for Proposals, we will then begin the preparations to own and manage the houses.
Early 2022 at the earliest. We expect the due diligence period to last six months. During that time we will also work with Toronto Community Housing to plan for a smooth transfer of services, assets and systems, as well as hire staff and ensure our own management systems are in place.