Spatial Justice for Nonprofits: This is What Inequality Looks Like 

Prior to the pandemic, TNN’s membership identified access to space as a “founding and forever” issue. The pandemic magnified the challenges associated with accessing and developing space for Toronto’s nonprofits.   

Torontonians deserve to live within walking distance of nonprofits that deliver services which bring people together and make Toronto dynamic, healthy and vibrant. Yet, nonprofit organizations are being forced out of their neighbourhoods or closing at an alarming rate due to commercial landlords raising rents. Despite being critical community builders, small nonprofits are the most vulnerable to being pushed out. 

Nonprofits in Toronto need access to secure and affordable space now. Join us in advocating for space as a critical element of Toronto’s poverty reduction strategies and help us ensure that nonprofits have a permanent place in our neighbourhoods.


From February 12, 2024 to March 8, 2024 TNN ran a campaign focused on community space running. Our goal was to raise awareness that Toronto’s nonprofits, grassroots groups and collectives need access to affordable and appropriate space located in the communities they serve.

We created a toolkit with a collection of background information about the need for access to secure and affordable space for Toronto’s Nonprofits. You can view that toolkit on this archive page.


Our campaign had three calls to action for the City to implement in their Corporate Real Estate Management, Create TO, and Build Toronto programs:

  1. Establish city decision-making processes and targets that expand the opportunities for Toronto nonprofit organizations to steward land development and redevelopment projects in ways that advance public benefits (including affordable/accessible housing and community space).
  2. Ensure all municipal real estate and (re)development practices intentionally seek to expand access to secure and affordable community-use spaces for nonprofit community organizations and grassroots groups. This includes better community consultation processes and higher standard for assessing community services needs (space, programming) in areas around any development.
  3. Ensure a process for community consultations/community space needs before selling, leasing, or redeveloping publicly-owned lands - creating an impact report on the expansion or loss of affordable nonprofit community space, and associated community demands.


The Creation of City Wide Commons 

When the pandemic hit, Family Service Toronto (FST) quickly adapted by adopting a hybrid model which ultimately led them to occupy just  a quarter of their previous space at 355 Church Street. Once FST realized their future was hybrid work and service delivery, they saw that they could shrink their space footprint. Instead of simply downsizing FST also chose a different model of property ownership or landlord. City Wide Commons was born.

It's About More Than Just Walls: CASSA's Path to Community

This story highlight’s one nonprofit's struggle to get good, affordable, and accessible space for themselves and their members in Toronto. CASSA serves over 120 member agencies across Ontario. Many have indicated the need for space. After years of working to secure space for themselves and their members to share they got it in 2023. But that's just the beginning of their space journey. There is much renovation work to be done to make it the Centre of Excellence for South Asians CASSA envisions.

Toronto non-profits meeting in parks, shopping malls as rental space becomes unaffordable

This Future of Good article outlines the challenges groups have of finding affordable space to serve their communities in Toronto. Many non-profits, especially grassroots groups, can’t afford to work in the communities they serve as affordable space becomes hard to find. Not having a permanent space in the neighbourhoods they serve further marginalizes Toronto's vulnerable communities and threatens to close down vital programming.