Mainstay and Houselink are two of the largest supportive housing providers in Toronto. We’ve worked together for years. They are a perfect partner for us because we are similar in many ways.

  • We have the same mission to provide housing and supports for those in need.
  • We share the same values.
  • Tenants in both our organizations sit on the board and have a say in decisions.
  • We have similar tenants.
  • Many of our houses are in the same neighbourhoods (see map. Mainstay buildings are blue. Houselink’s are green).
  • We have the same funders.

Houselink also provides many supports for their tenants. Our goal is to take what each of us does best and create a stronger organization.

If you want to learn more about them, visit www.houselink.on.ca.

Houselink Fact Sheet (PDF)

Houselink 2019 Annual Report (PDF)

You will continue to get the level of service you need, both in support and programs. In fact, the agreement to join together makes the commitment that we will work to improve access to support and programs. Because so many of Houselink and Mainstay’s buildings are so close to each other, you will have easier access to services near you. Also, the savings realized by having a single administration will allow more funds to be put into better support and programs.

We know how important the support relationship is to our tenants and our goal is to disrupt that relationship as little as possible.

Currently, Mainstay has a small and lean team of supportive housing workers. As you can see from the map with the purple circle, in many cases an SHW is supporting many buildings across a large area. For some tenants, an SHW can only visit a building once a week and we often don’t have enough staff to back up an SHW who is off on vacation or sick. More than that, tenants lose support time because an SHW has to plan to travel from one building to another.

Now look at the map with the pink circle. This map includes Houselink buildings too. Joining with Houselink means that we’ll have a larger team, which gives us more options for support. We’ll have more staff to cover anyone who is away. Buildings are closer together, so the area for an SHW to support will be smaller. This means less travel time and more time with tenants. So a worker should be in your building more often, or you may even be able to walk over to a building for support too. We are also planning that when we build new housing, in-building support will be part of the plans.

Current State
Future State

Similar to the answer about better tenant support, with a larger team we’ll be able to provide improved maintenance in our buildings, so you can get your workorders addressed more quickly. The map with two rectangles shows how we work right now. Mainstay has two maintenance teams. One for the West and one for the East. You can see they each have a large area to cover. So, as an example, they could spend an hour or more a day just traveling from one building to another. That’s time not spent actually fixing a problem.

If you look on the second map that includes Houselink homes, you’ll see that we’ll be able to split the areas into three instead of two and buildings are closer together. We are confident that we’ll be able to reduce wait times to address workorders. The other thing we plan to do is to establish maintenance standards. We know we have to do better with maintenance. So we will be working with tenants to set priorities and establish clearer expectations for addressing workorders. This will be one of the first priorities when we join together.

Health and non-profit housing are changing and we can’t get left behind. For us at Mainstay, there are many things that impact us, such as:

  • We own housing for which the funding is ending over the next 10 years. We need to take a smarter and more efficient approach to protect the housing we have.
  • In addition to the housing we own, we also lease hundreds of units in the private market and are at risk of losing this housing because of rent increases. Both Mainstay and Houselink want to build housing we own and operate so we are not as dependent on for-profit landlords.
  • Some of our housing stock is also shared and lacks accessibility. This is stock that we bought in the early 80’s. It was at a time when many people were leaving psychiatric wards and cramped rooming houses were the only option.  Today we know that most people prefer their own apartment, and by joining together, we will have the ability to create new, self-contained units
  • Only 11 of our properties have an elevator and our tenants are aging and need accessible units.
  • The funding and other resources, like government owned land that is being made available to address homelessness, is very competitive! Size and capacity are going to matter – especially in a city like Toronto. Together, we’ll be of a size and have the financial capacity needed to get the funding we need to create housing in a big city – and build housing that anyone would love to live in.
  • The health sector that we work in is becoming more and more integrated. It means that we have much less say and independence. Being a larger size will give us more control over our decisions. We can create our own future, without being told we have to integrate with someone we don’t know as well as Houselink.

No. It’s a choice. And both Houselink and Mainstay’s boards support it unanimously.

Because there will be one administration, it’s expected that there will be some adjustments at head office. We fully expect that front-line staff roles that are there to serve and support your will actually increase. Everyone will be treated fairly, and we are still figuring out if most of the changes can be made through retirements or the end of contracts.

No. You will be able to keep your housing. And the good news is we’ll have access to a larger pool of housing, and our goal is to create more high-quality housing. So, tenants who currently live in shared accommodation will have greater opportunity to move to self-contained units. Current tenants will also have the opportunity to be the first tenants in any brand new housing that the joined organization develops.

Rent changes will be like they normally are. Joining together won’t change that.

Houselink offers a number of valuable programs to tenants, such as social recreation, community kitchens, vocational training and leadership development. A key goal for joining together with Houselink is to expand services and programs for all tenants. Where there is capacity for a Houselink program, Mainstay tenants may get access. One of the first pieces to work through are the agreements about programs.

We also want to look at new opportunities to improve or add new programs, if we join together.

After we join together, there will be more options available to you for housing. The joined organization will have a single internal transfer list and a process will be established to assess available units and how to fill them.

In this environment, you need capacity to develop housing at the scale needed to address homelessness here in Toronto. But bigger is actually better for a lot of other reasons:

  • We’ll have a bigger team to support you better.
  • We’ll have a larger budget to offer you more supports.
  • We’ll have access to more housing options.
  • Being a bigger organization gives us more control and access to more funding.
  • Houselink and Mainstay will be positioned as leaders and will have a stronger voice in the sector and with decision makers.

While the joined organization will be bigger, it will continue to have a core value of engaging and being responsive to tenants, and tenants will continue to be voting members of the organization.

That has not been decided. The new board will need to discuss if we keep both the Houselink and Mainstay names, or potentially consider something new. Tenants will have a say in any name changes.

Right now, the Boards of both Houselink and Mainstay follow by laws, or rules, in how they make decisions and run the organization. By-laws deal with a number of things, such as how to become a Director, terms of office, and membership.

The Board of the new joined organization will follow temporary by laws for the first year. During that time, they will consult with tenants about what the permanent by laws for the new organization should be. For a by law to change or a new one put in place, 2/3 of members who vote need to be in favour of the by law. Exactly like we needed 2/3 of both organizations to vote in favour of joining together.

This ASL-interpreted video will answer frequently asked by tenants about Joining Together With Houselink.