• Client Profile: YWCA Toronto

    YWCA Toronto, established in 1873, is an association of women dedicated to improving the lives of women and girls through leadership, advocacy, and a range of services that promote personal growth and economic independence.

    YWCA Toronto - Elm CentreThe Project

    With more than 70,000 names on the waiting list for affordable housing in Toronto, the YWCA’s Elm Centre project was developed to address the issue of affordable housing in the city.
    YWCA Elm Centre was an $80 million project that transformed an entire city block into a 300-unit affordable and supportive apartment complex. The complex consists of three buildings providing affordable, supportive housing for 150 low-income and women-led families, 100 women living with serious mental health and addiction issues, and 50 households of Aboriginal ancestry. Fifteen percent of the apartments are designated for women over 50 years old.

    The YWCA has incorporated many “green” features in the complex. Built to LEED Silver standards, the YWCA Elm Centre includes energy-efficient geothermal radiant heating and cooling systems, green roofs, EnergyStar-rated appliances throughout, as well as a tri-sorter garbage disposal system. 

    Financing Challenges

    After difficulties securing financing through traditional sources, the YWCA decided to partner with Infrastructure Ontario (IO) for a $37 million loan. With IO’s Loan Program broadening eligibility to include social and affordable housing in December 2008; YWCA was quick to submit a loan application and became the first affordable housing provider to be approved for a financing. The loan, combined with $38 million in federal, provincial and municipal grants and a successful fundraising campaign meant the project could go forward. 

    “The loan we are able to access from Infrastructure Ontario will enable us to build 300 units of green and affordable housing for low-income women and children in the city. The fact that IO has been a full partner at the table means that we have been able to benefit from their construction and technical expertise.”

    Lois Fine, Director of Finance and Information Technology - YWCA Toronto

    The Result

    Since its opening in May 2012, the YWCA Elm Centre has provided affordable, supportive housing to more than 300 women and their families.

    The YWCA Elm Centre is also home to its administrative headquarters and is a community hub featuring several public venues, including: an auditorium, meeting rooms, a reception hall, a resource centre, retail space, and a restaurant. 

    Through YWCA’s partnerships with Wigwamen Incorporated, St. Michael’s Hospital and the Jean Tweed Centre, Elm Centre residents now have a safe and supportive community with access to programs and services that help them realize their full potential.

    For more information about YWCA, please visit their website at ywcatoronto.org