By Robin MacLennan
Ontario Construction Report staff writer
Toronto officials gathered in January to watch the delivery and craning in of the first modules that will become new permanent supportive homes for 57 people experiencing homelessness.
The city had turned to modular housing to meet the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan’s target of approving 40,000 new affordable rental homes, including 18,000 supportive homes. Currently, there are about 150 city-led and/or City-supported affordable housing projects in the City’s development pipeline. Some of these include large, multi-phase developments. Once completed, these projects will deliver over 20,000 affordable rental and supportive homes.
Modular construction is gaining in popularity in response to Toronto’s urgent need to create more permanent affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness while reducing pressure on the emergency shelter system.
It also supports climate change action, as these high-quality and energy-efficient homes are prefabricated in a factory and transported to the site, where they are assembled. The benefits of modular construction, compared to traditional construction, include speed, cost efficiency and lower carbon emissions.
The homes at this site are part of the second Phase of the Modular Housing Initiative (MHI), approved by City Council in April 2020 and funded through a partnership between the City and the federal government. This unique partnership allows the city to leverage land already within its portfolio for the purpose of building more affordable and supportive homes. The land at 39 Dundalk Dr. is owned by the Toronto Community Housing Corporation (TCHC) and is subject to a lease between the City and TCHC.
The municipal 2023 tabled budget, includes over $616 million in direct support for housing initiatives.
When completed, the modular supportive housing building at 39 Dundalk Dr. will be operated by Homes First Society, a non-profit housing organization that provides affordable, stable housing and support services to break the cycle of homelessness.
Modular homes will provide good quality and deeply affordable homes that better meet the needs of residents who are residing at a hotel shelter adjacent to the Dundalk site.
Residents will pay rent based on their incomes and have access to a private studio apartment (with a kitchen and a bathroom) and ample amenity spaces. It includes a commercial kitchen, laundry room, large programming spaces and office/support areas. Future residents will include women, Indigenous residents, seniors and persons with disabilities.
“We are committed to taking bold, tangible action to address the affordability and housing crises facing our city,” said Councillor Brad Bradford. “Projects like this demonstrate one of the ways we are bringing in more housing, faster.
“The permanent and affordable homes that will be on this site will be of great benefit, providing not only safe and accessible housing, but also on-site supports for 57 individuals experiencing homelessness.”