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Residential Building Community Contributed $1.4M For Housing Projects For The Homeless

by Richard Lyall on 02 Feb 2023

Ontario’s residential builders do much more than build homes. Our industry is made up of thousands of small, family-run contracting businesses, so giving back to the community is also a priority.

Recently, RESCON held an event to recognize the contributions of our industry to the building of two projects in Toronto that provide affordable housing for those who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

The residential construction industry and our partners from management and labour successfully raised more than $1.4 million for the construction of affordable housing units at 25 Leonard Ave. and to renovate supportive housing apartments at 877 Yonge St., both of which are managed by the St. Clare’s Multifaith Housing Society, a charitable organization that provides affordable housing in Toronto.

We appreciate the support of our industry partners. We could not have reached the goal without them.

Mayor John Tory, Associate Housing Minister Michael Parsa, and Toronto Coun. Brad Bradford, chair of the city’s planning and housing committee joined in the celebrations of our partners and supporters.

However, the unsung hero of the two successful fundraising drives was Phil Rubinoff of Laurier Homes. It was Phil’s dedication and perseverance that helped raise funds for the two St. Clare’s projects.

Phil is a community builder and philanthropist who chaired the fundraising committee, which approached and secured donations for the two projects from across the residential construction industry.

Phil has dedicated himself to numerous causes and has been an active leader in many charities for decades. He inspires us with his humanity, generosity, and empathy toward people in need. He volunteers countless hours in charitable endeavours but doesn’t seek recognition for his efforts. 

Phil and his late wife, Ida, founded the Ida Rubinoff Fund at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre to support cancer patients with out-of-pocket expenses. There have been many beneficiaries of the fund.

He is a volunteer and contributor to the United Jewish Appeal Federation of Greater Toronto which raises money for social services, education, and cultural programs.

Ahead of the critical 1995 Quebec referendum, meanwhile, Phil did his part and founded Canadians for a Unified Canada, a group that engaged in a 10-month, letter-writing campaign to families in Quebec to demonstrate support and dispel perceptions of apathy from the rest of the country. 

A community builder, Phil has dedicated himself to improving the residential construction industry as a founding member of the three residential construction associations under the umbrella of RESCON and founding board chairman of the Residential and Civil Construction Alliance of Ontario.

Twenty-two housing units were built at the Leonard Avenue site for people who’ve experienced long-term homelessness. Twenty-five supportive housing apartments were built in a former seniors’ residence at the Yonge Street location for people who are experiencing or at risk of homelessness. 

But the fundraising campaign did more than support the building of the two housing projects. It also raised the profile of practical solutions to homelessness in the media. The ripple effect has been significant to St. Clare’s, but also to the discussion about solutions to homelessness in the province.

The residential construction industry was pleased to play a part in both projects. We are delighted they are now in operation and helping people get into appropriate housing. The projects are great examples of what can be achieved when the private and public sectors and government join forces for a good cause. 

Projects such as the St. Clare’s ventures are desperately needed in Toronto and across Ontario. It is no secret that we are short of housing supply and need to build more affordable homes quickly. 

As St. Clare’s executive director Andrea Adams has noted, the need for affordable housing has never been more severe.

“Completion of these projects is a meaningful step in the right direction, but not the end of our efforts,” she said in a recent statement. “These projects are critical as they change the lives of people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, providing them with appropriate accommodation and dignity.”

Richard Lyall is president of the Residential Construction Council of Ontario (RESCON). He has represented the building industry in Ontario since 1991. Contact him at [email protected].

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