Who Owns Chinatown? Mapping Ownership and Precarity to Mobilize a Community Land Trust

Friends of Chinatown Toronto (FOCT) is a grassroots group fighting for community-controlled housing and racial justice in Toronto’s downtown Chinatown. Since 2019, FOCT has explored the potential of the Community Land Trust (CLT) model. In 2020, FOCT partnered with University of Toronto planning students, and released a research report that offered strategies for combatting displacement pressures such as the CLT model (Ahmed et al, 2020). Building on this report and ongoing organizing work in the neighbourhood, this project 1) identifies existing affordable housing stock in downtown Chinatown that is vulnerable to speculation, upscaling and eviction threats; and 2) develops community-led strategies for housing preservation and acquisition for various housing types through a CLT.
To this end, we will take a community action research approach that combines data collection with community and stakeholder engagement. We will collect secondary data including changes in rents, property ownership and housing types, and eviction data, coupled with tenant surveys conducted through canvassing and phone outreach (see Appendix B). As recommended in the research report, we will also map assets held by Chinatown's family associations, benevolent societies and faith-based organizations, which have long offered housing and essential services for immigrant and racialized members. This approach holds potential for relationship-building with long-term property owners to preserve affordable housing in Chinatown, a proven strategy undertaken by Boston’s Chinatown CLT. We will then organize 2-3 focus groups with FOCT members and community stakeholders to collectively analyze data and generate a set of community-led acquisition strategies and policy options.

  • Innovating in Responsive Land Practices

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