Community-owned space

Rising rental costs on community space have left agencies struggling to pay rent or forced to relocate as properties are redeveloped. This disrupts and reduces access to services — even as the demand for those services is growing.

At United Way, we have always stepped forward to bridge gaps. And so we are now, moving into the world of community real estate to ensure sustainable, accessible and community-owned spaces for local services and gathering. We're developing new mechanisms of social purpose ownership and acquisition that will give agencies greater control over their space and free them up to focus on what they do best, providing programming and services where they're most needed.

A gpresenter speaking an accelerator pitch session

We are building capacity for ourselves and the sector. Through the University of Toronto's Infrastructure Institute at the School of Cities we're developing the skills and knowledge to succeed: tools, research and training modules for agencies assessing their own readiness and an accelerator program for agencies already engaged, benefiting close to 75 organizations so far. Together with the Institute, we're also mapping and assessing current real estate holdings across the GTA's community services sector.

With this additional focus, United Way Greater Toronto is moving from addressing symptoms of poverty to building greater equity into the bricks and mortar of neighbourhoods — existing and emerging. And in everything we do, from supporting our network to partnering with others to leading research and mobilizing action, we are cementing our role as the go-to place to get and give help, to source and resource solutions.

This is the way to take care of one another. This is the way to move forward.

There can be no intensification and complete communities without preserving and growing local community owned spaces — places where people go to bump into each other, access info and supports, and solve issues. This community infrastructure is a cornerstone of a 2035 GTA that is prosperous for all. Matti Siemiatycki
Director of the Infrastructure Institute at the University of Toronto