2021/04/13 | News – sector growth

Merger creates largest supportive housing provider in Canada

Toronto-based Mainstay Housing and Houselink Community Homes have joined forces and officially formed Houselink & Mainstay Inc. as of April 1, making them the largest supportive-housing provider in Canada.

The combined agencies provide services to more than 2,300 people with serious mental health issues and many challenges, such as drug use and homeless. Together, they own nearly 60 buildings in Toronto. The merger will allow them to protect their properties in a context where mortgages and operating agreements with the Ontario government are expiring, they note in a news release. The merger will also allow them to provide better services and will expand funding opportunities.

For their tenants, the merger won’t change the services they receive, housing conditions or rents.     

Houselink tenants voted 84% in favour of the merger in November 2020. Eighty-eight percent of those in Mainstay approved in January.

Gautam Mukherjee, who was executive director of Mainstay, was appointed executive director of the merged agencies.

“It’s not the same world as when we started in the ‘70s and ‘80s,” Mukherjee said in a statement. “Non-profits are competing against each other for funding and the expectations are higher. Together, we will leverage our assets and our strengths. Our tenants will benefit and we’ll be a stronger voice for the kinds of changes our sector needs.”

Nearly 20,000 people with serious mental health issues are waiting for affordable housing and support services in Toronto.

Tenant engagement

The tenant-engagement portion of the merger process received a $50,000 grant from the Community Housing Transformation Centre in early 2020. It was aimed at consulting tenants in the process and addressing any concerns they may have had about it.

Now that the merger has been completed, this project is looking to encourage connection between tenants who live on nearby properties owned by Mainstay or Houselink, and setting up consultations and focus groups for tenants involvement in governance, regulations, services, and defining the vision and image of the new organization.

The merger project also received funding from the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network. Houselink & Mainstay Inc is supported financially by the Ministry of Health, Health Ontario and the city of Toronto.

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