City of Toronto Modular Housing Initiative progressing quickly; initial site locations identified

Within a month of receiving Council approval, the plan to expedite delivery of Phase 1 of the City of Toronto’s Modular Housing Initiative is well underway and the program is on track to provide stable, affordable, high quality housing and support services to 100 individuals experiencing homelessness by the fall of 2020.

A key component of the expedited delivery is site identification. City and CreateTO staff have been evaluating 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. Following the rigorous evaluation process, the following two sites are being recommended for Phase 1 of the Modular Housing Initiative:

  • 150 Harrison St. (Ward 9): 44 bachelor apartments. This is the former site of the 14 Division Police Station.
  • 11 Macey Ave. (Ward 20): 56 bachelor apartments. Near Victoria Park and Danforth.

The City will select qualified, non-profit housing providers to manage each site. The modular homes will be pre-fabricated and installed on site. The modular 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. Images of modular housing sites in Vancouver as well as renderings, providing examples of what the two Toronto sites may look like, can be found here: https://www.toronto.ca/home/media-room/video-b-roll-images/modular-housing-initiative-images/.

The community engagement process is starting shortly with online events planned for each location. Community members are encouraged to become engaged in this process before the housing is built and remain involved after residents have moved in. 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 calls for the City to approve 40,000 new affordable rental homes including the creation of 1,000 modular homes. Building modular supportive housing is a quick and effective way to provide permanent homes with supports, on a neighbourhood scale, for those who are experiencing homelessness.

The full capital costs for Phase I is estimated at $20.9 million. Funding is coming from the City’s Development Charges Reserve Fund for Subsidized Housing, and from 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.

More information about the Modular Housing Initiative including site specific information and community engagement details can be found at https://www.toronto.ca/modularhousing.

Quotes:

“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. I have led City Council in supporting the modular housing initiative because it 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.”

– Mayor John Tory

“The COVID-19 crisis has only reinforced that fact housing affordability is an issue that affects every neighbourhood, every family, and every business. If you don’t have a place to call your own – that is safe and affordable – nothing else matters. 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.”

– Deputy Mayor Ana Bailão (Ward 9 Davenport), Planning and Housing Committee Chair

“Providing permanent, affordable rental housing with support services on-site will help people to move out of the shelter system and off of the streets. How we care about each other has especially been highlighted during the COVID-19 crisis and it has never been clearer that Scarborough cares. Sheltering and providing affordable housing is a significant way by which we can create vibrant and successful communities. I am advocating for the best possible initiative here in Ward 20 and I have asked staff to make sure this initiative will help Scarborough residents affected by homelessness stay close to their community and connected to community resources.”

– Councillor Gary Crawford (Ward 20 Scarborough-Southwest), Budget Committee Chair