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York Region charity gets $1M for program to help tenants build savings

March 5, 2024

Posted on: March 5th, 2024. By: Joseph Quigley,, Original Article.

Blue Door to launch new Dwell program, support new land trust with funding from TD.

York Region housing charity Blue Door is getting a $1-million grant from TD to pilot a new program helping affordable housing tenants build savings. 

Blue Door was one of 10 organizations across Canada to receive a TD Ready Challenge Grant, meant to help support charities in finding meaningful solutions to issues. The 2023 grant program tasked applicants to figure out solutions to help address the affordable housing crisis.

Blue Door is putting the funding toward the new All Community Land Trust and pilot program called Dwell, aimed at helping those in need build savings while living in affordable housing to help them stay in housing.

Blue Door CEO Michael Braithwaite said it is an important grant that will allow Dwell to get off the ground.

“We’re pumped,” Braithwaite said. “Without this grant, it’d be very difficult to get these things moving forward. We’re one step forward to realizing our vision that everyone has a safe place to call home.” 

The grant program has been running for several years, addressing issues such as climate change, health outcomes and income stability.

TD said housing costs are at an all-time high, and there are many barriers to accessing affordable housing, including for racialized and low-income communities.

“The TD Ready Challenge is one of the key ways we are delivering on the bank’s purpose to help enrich the lives of our colleagues, customers and communities, and a prime example of our commitment to help people thrive in a rapidly changing world,” TD senior vice-president of sustainability and corporate citizenship Janice Farrell Jones said. 

The new land trust was formally announced in January after years in the works. An independent entity, the land trust will look to acquire housing units as part of new developments that it will then manage and keep affordable.

Dwell, meanwhile, is a program that has yet to begin, but Braithwaite said the grant will allow them to start a three-year pilot sometime this year. The concept is that Blue Door will take a certain percentage of the rent of those living in their affordable housing facilities on a longer-term basis. That would then be built up over several years and matched by a donor, so that person can have a good amount of savings once they move out.

For example, Braithwaite said someone might build up $5,000 from this program after staying in affordable housing for five years, with a donor matching so they could then have $10,000 to work with. 

The idea is to help people build up over time and avoid living paycheque to paycheque, Braithwaite said.

 It could help someone with “buying a car, sending their kids to school, getting a different type of housing, things like that. It really gives them hope and options.” 

Blue Door would oversee the program, Braithwaite said, and participation would not impact someone’s current rental cost. 

The charity has worked on the idea for two years, Braithwaite said, but this funding will actually allow it to launch.

The exact split of how much the land trust and Dwell will get of the $1-million grant remains to be determined, Braithwaite said.

He expressed appreciation to TD for the funding.

“They’ve been very innovative in their funding programs,” he said. “We’re really grateful to them for this opportunity and for their generosity in making this happen.”