New response to neighbourhood gentrification: Local Land Trust raises investment through community bonds to protect affordable housing and small businesses

Kensington Market Community Land Trust aims to raise up to $2M through Kensington Community bonds to purchase its second building and continue its mission

TORONTO, March 25, 2024 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Kensington Market Community Land Trust (KMCLT), a nonprofit in Toronto, has announced the launch of ‘Kensington Community Bonds’ as a response to its rapidly-gentrifying Kensington Market neighbourhood. KMCLT will raise up to $2M through community bonds to expand its mission and acquire a second property in the neighbourhood. The financing will help the local land trust preserve affordable housing and prevent further displacement of legacy businesses by taking more property off the for-profit real estate market.

KMCLT is calling upon supporters to invest in its community bond offering to keep Kensington Market community-owned. Community bonds are a proven social finance tool that allow neighbourhood-based organizations like KMCLT to leverage their network of supporters to help finance the purchase of fixed-assets while generating returns for these community investors.

With investment minimums as low as $500 and interest rates of up to 4.5%, Kensington Market community bonds are designed to attract a wide range of investors from everyday residents, businesses, organizations and foundations across Canada. The bonds will be administered by Tapestry Community Capital, a community investment and social finance leader that has successfully advised qualified issuers in raising over $100 million in community bonds.

Dominique Russell, Co-Chair of the Kensington Market Community Land Trust said, “We are an organization centered on mutual aid and community ownership, so we believe our financing options should align with these values. We are seeking to use community-sourced funding rather than relying on an external lender for a mortgage. The community bond model gives us control over our financing terms. And instead of paying interest to banks, we will be putting this money directly into the community we serve.”

Kensington Market has long been a haven for residents and businesses of all different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds. However, in recent years, gentrification has resulted in rising rents, displacing longtime residential tenants and pushing out legacy and small independent businesses.

Since its incorporation in 2017, KMCLT has sought to keep housing affordable and accessible for everyone in the community. The organization aims to provide stability to longtime renters, especially those who face gentrification and renoviction. Its current portfolio consists of one property in Kensington Market, which was purchased after a resident-led resistance to the previous landlord's illegal eviction process. To build on this success, KMCLT is now seeking to acquire their second property in or near Kensington Market.

In 2023, KMCLT received a $476,000 forgivable loan from the City of Toronto to go towards a future property acquisition. With the capital raised through community bonds and government funding, KMCLT intends to purchase a property for sale between $2-4M by the fall of 2024. KMCLT will be the owner and operator of this property. KMCLT is open to the type of property that it acquires; it will consider both mixed-use (commercial and residential units) and entirely residential. Depending on the funding it receives, KMCLT may consider making two land acquisitions.

Before KMCLT’s official bond campaign launch, it already had more than 450 people in its waitlist to support the organization’s mission and its second property purchase. This is a testament to how their mission to preserve affordable housing and protect commercial spaces in Kensington Market resonates with the wider community.

KMCLT has a proven track record of delivering affordable housing solutions – in 2021, with government and community support, KMCLT bought the iconic Mona Lisa building at 54-56 Kensington Avenue, a 150-years-old, neighbourhood-anchoring property. The community land trust has kept its 12 residential units affordable and provided five diverse businesses with long-term lease stability. 54-56 Kensington Avenue’s current residential rental rates average well under 80% of Average Market Rent ($1,142 for a bachelor apartment, and $1,594 for a 2-bedroom) set by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). The land trust will be using $200,000 raised from the bonds to pay off a portion of the mortgage on this existing property.

Investors can learn more about Kensington Community Bonds and how to invest by visiting

About Kensington Market Community Land Trust
KMCLT is a community-led non-profit that acquires and provides for the management of land in Toronto’s Kensington Market. As a Community Land Trust, KMCLT removes property from the pressure of the commercial real estate market, with the overarching goal of land use for local community benefit, including but not limited to: the provision of affordable housing, the maintenance of the eclectic mixed-use nature that characterizes the neighbourhood; and the continued presence of different cultures and socio-economic backgrounds in the residents and businesses populating the area.

Learn more about investing in the future of Kensington Market here:

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