Ontario Construction News staff writer
Toronto’s modular housing initiative is on track to provide stable, affordable, high quality housing and support services to 100 people currently experiencing homelessness by fall 2020.
City and CreateTO staff evaluated city-owned land across Toronto, using criteria that included local demand for affordable housing, development potential of the site, local infrastructure, access to public transit, access to health and other community services, as well as zoning and other bylaw considerations.
Two sites are recommended for Phase 1 of the Modular Housing Initiative:
- 150 Harrison St. (former site of the 14 Division police station) – 44 bachelor apartments.
- 11 Macey Ave. (near Victoria Park and Danforth Avenues) – 56 bachelor apartments.
Qualified non-profit housing providers will be hired to manage each site.
Modular homes will be prefabricated and installed on site. The buildings will include self-contained bachelor units with kitchens and washrooms. Each location will also have a shared communal kitchen and administrative and program space.
City Council has approved the first two phase of the project that will create 100 modular homes on City-owned sites by fall 2020 and an additional 150 by spring 2021.
“As Toronto continues to grow, we are working to find unique and modern ways to address the ongoing challenges that we will face, including the need for more housing options,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory. “Modular housing . . . is a key way in which we can provide residents access to stable, affordable, high quality housing as quickly as possible. Through modular housing we can quickly create permanent housing options that will impact the lives of many people in our city.”
A community engagement process is starting shortly with online events planned for each location. The City is seeking feedback on building and site design elements, such as lighting, pathways and landscaping as well as ideas for how to support and welcome the residents into the neighbourhoods.
The Modular Housing Initiative is one component of the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan, which sets a goal of 40,000 new affordable rental homes including the creation of 1,000 modular homes.
The capital costs for Phase I is estimated at $20.9 million, with funding from the Development Charges Reserve Fund for Subsidized Housing, and the Government of Canada through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, which has committed $8.25 million in contributions and repayable loans.
Operating funding for health-related support services and housing subsidies will be requested from the Province, so that deeply affordable supportive homes can be delivered at the sites.
“If you don’t have a place to call your own – that is safe and affordable – nothing else matters,” said Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão. “The most visible and distressing need for housing is for people who are living day-to-day in shelters, on our streets, in our parks and on the edges of our city. The Modular Housing Initiative will make a real impact for the people who move in.”