The seeds of St. Clare's Multifaith Housing are found in the group Toronto Action for Social Change (TASC). TASC was involved with a group of street youth who were arrested for squatting after being evicted from the squat where they had been living. After helping the youth deal with the justice system, TASC started to look for a way to build affordable housing where homeless people could live.
This was the mid 1990s and social programs and funding for affordable housing were being cut. In the absence of an ongoing social housing program, the challenge was to find a way to secure property, funding and financing. No small chore. TASC incorporated a legal entity, applied for a charitable status, and St. Clare's Multifaith Housing was created. St. Clare's recognized that the costs of building from scratch would be prohibitive, and so the group set about trying to acquire existing properties suitable for conversion to apartments.
After making offers on a variety of properties, St. Clare's had its first success in 2000 and was able to negotiate an offer on a former medical office building at 25 Leonard Avenue. 25 Leonard Avenue was fully occupied in December of 2001.
Since that first success, St. Clare's has persevered with its pragmatic "just do it" approach. St. Clare's added 26 more apartments at 25 Leonard in 2005. These additional units were prefabricated-an innovation honoured in November 2006 with a 'Best Practices' award from CMHC. In 2004 St. Clare's purchased the Avenue Road Hotel at 138 Pears Avenue. The period from the initial offer to the first move-in was less than 8 months.
All the tenants living at 25 Leonard and 138 Pears were previously homeless or living in a shelter.
Since its inception, St. Clare's has developed 173 units of new, affordable housing in Toronto with another 190 units of new affordable housing currently under construction.