Ontario Construction News staff writer
Meridian is contributing $100,000 and partnering with Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin’s innovative tiny homes pilot program, working alongside skilled trades students and Indigenous communities to build and establish affordable housing units.
“The Tiny Homes Pilot Program is an exciting and unique initiative helping to accelerate economic reconciliation and youth community activism and aligns with Meridian’s interest in supporting community-based affordable housing solutions,” Meridian’s president and CEO Jay-Ann Gilfoy said in a statement. “Our corporate partnership with Habitat is the outcome of an imaginative combination which brought together Meridian volunteers, Indigenous community members and students.”
Habitat for Humanity’s tiny homes program was brought to Meridian’s attention by an employee, at the suggestion of her teen daughter who completed a construction course at a local school.
Together, they inspired a group of Meridian employees to volunteer for a community-based tiny house build. Recognizing the opportunity to do more, the voice of one 15-year-old high school student prompted Meridian’s formal involvement as a sponsor to expand the pilot.
The first phase of the pilot program began in the summer 2022 with five tiny homes built and relocated to the Chippewas of the Nawash First Nation, three to families and two serving as emergency shelters.
“We are providing hands-on training for students in the housing and construction trades,” said Chief Veronica Smith, Chippewas of Nawash Unceded First Nations. “We appreciate the dedication and skills coming to our First Nation; building lasting relationships and sharing in cultural exchanges at the same time.”
With Meridian’s funding support of phase two, the Habitat HMD team will complete six tiny home builds in the 2022-23 school year.
“At Habitat for Humanity, we are working to make affordable housing a reality for more people, but we can’t do it alone. With the help of organizations like Meridian, we can make a difference,” says Eden Grodzinksi, CEO, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga-Dufferin.
Each of the phase two homes will be constructed by local secondary school students in partnership with two additional First Nations communities, The Chippewas of Kettle Stony Point and The Saugeen First Nations.
“This Tiny Home Program is forecasted to be a major pillar of the skilled trades and social impact programs across secondary schools in the coming years,” says Eden. “Not only are we increasing the number of people who will have a safe, decent and affordable place to call home, but by partnering with our local school boards, we are also able to empower students to take action in their communities.”