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Benefit concert to take place at Danforth Music Hall for victims of shooting

Billy Talent and a collection of other musicians are banding together to perform a concert at the Danforth Music Hall on August 11 in support of the #TorontoStrong fund following the Danforth shooting.

A benefit concert called Toronto Together will feature musicians such as Billy Talent, Pup, City and Colour, and other currently unannounced artists to raise money for the #TorontoStrong fund. The fund was started by the city of Toronto and Toronto Foundation to raise money for those affected by the April 23rd van attack and the July 22nd Danforth shooting.

The concert will also be taking place during Taste of the Danforth festival.

“What has happened in Toronto this summer and what happened on the Danforth a few blocks from our studio, has not only hit close to home, this has hit home,” Billy Talent said in a statement. “All we know is that we can’t just sit here. We don’t know what we want but we want to do something. We want to throw a concert to show the world and more importantly our community that Toronto is a place of love, of community, of kindness and compassion. The violence that has happened here this summer does not represent the majority.”

The Danforth Music Hall is only metres away from where the deadly July 22 shooting took place. 29-year-old gunman Faisal Hussain approached civilians in Toronto’s Greektown neighbourhood and open-fired, taking the lives of 10-year-old Julianna Kozis and 18-year-old Reese Fallon.

The Toronto Foundation wrote about how Mayor John Tory and the city of Toronto partnered with their foundation to establish the #TorontoStrong fund, which has gained over $3.5 million in donations for those affected by the van and Danforth attacks. “Serving as the Fund’s pro bono Fund Administrator, former Toronto Mayor Barbara Hall is working to disburse the entirety of funds to the victims in a timely fashion. Contributions will continue to be received up to August 31 with final disbursements made by September 30, 2018,” they wrote.

After the funds are distributed to the victims, the volunteer steering committee of the Toronto Foundation will generate further ideas to prevent future violence in the city and “long-term strategies related to city-wide impacts of mass acts of violence.”

Habitat for Humanity GTA to build 50 affordable homes

Toronto is looking to build more affordable housing, with a 50 unit townhouse development approved last week in East Toronto.

Habitat for Humanity GTA, along with Mayor John Tory and the Toronto Foundation, have approved the affordable housing development at 140 Pinery Trail. This is the first project to use a dense build form of back-to-back-stacked townhouses, featuring three, four, and five bedroom units. The housing project is set to house 50 families by 2019.

Habitat for Humanity has an affordable housing model that allows families to become homeowners while paying a no-interest mortgage. The mortgage is capped at 30 per cent of their annual housing income, and instead of contributing a down payment, the family must volunteer 500 hours towards the construction of their home and other habitat properties.

The Toronto Foundation is providing funding for 15 homes through a social impact investment. This type of investment looks to help push forward positive social supports such as affordable housing, but it is a loan. This loan will be paid back using mortgage payments once the first 15 families move in. Private donors will also contribute to the loans.  The Toronto Foundation was created in 1981 and helps provide resources for individuals and families.

Other donors for the project include the Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB), Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD), Right at Home Realty, Great-West Life Realty Advisors, Enbridge Gas Distribution and the Clark Family Foundation.

Habitat for Humanity GTA  is a non-profit housing organization that works with families to help them obtain affordable housing. The organization has built over 300 homes in Brampton, Caledon, Toronto and the York Region since 1998, and is affiliated with Habitat for Humanity worldwide.

This affordable housing project is the first recipient of the Toronto Foundation social impact investment. The Open Door affordable housing initiative is pushing for non-profits to work together to create housing, and this project is a big win for the city. It is important to note though that it is somewhat disappointing that Toronto must lean on non-profits such as Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit that is already stretched from providing resources to dilapidated regions around the world. Toronto is clearly in dire need for affordable housing and is looking for help. On the other hand, it is a progressive step forward to see large private donors contribute to the funding. Hopefully this is a trend that continues and ultimately solves the housing crisis in the largest Canadian city.