City of Toronto opens second modular, supportive housing building

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Toronto’s second modular supportive housing building at 321 Dovercourt Rd. opened last week.

The 44 new units will house individuals currently experiencing homelessness and complement the City’s 2020-21 winter service plan to ensure safe and welcoming places for people experiencing homelessness during the winter.

“COVID-19 has heightened the need to get critical housing projects approved and completed faster. That’s why the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, at the request of the City of Toronto, issued a Minister’s Zoning Order to help get this innovative project completed and get vulnerable people into the housing they need today,” said Parm Gill, parliamentary assistant.

Modular housing is high-quality, prefabricated housing that is transported to the site for assembly. The three-storey building at 321 Dovercourt Rd. has 44 studio apartments and includes a common room, dining room, program space, administrative offices and a commercial kitchen that can provide on-site meals for residents.

Each home is about 300 square feet and has a built-in kitchen. They are also furnished with a twin bed, a lounge chair, a dining table and chairs and a dresser. Twenty-five per cent of the modular homes are accessible.

The Neighbourhood Group (TNG) and Cota Health were selected to operate and provide support services at both locations. They will provide 24/7 on-site staffing, as well as support services to tenants, including:

Housing stability and eviction prevention
Connections with community supports and other services such as primary healthcare, volunteer and employment opportunities, and help accessing income support programs
Personal recovery relating to mental health and substance use challenges
Establishing Personal Crisis Response Plans
Help with medication reminders and safe storage
Harm reduction and relapse prevention counselling and support
Help with daily living activities
Rent collection and arrears payment plans
Support to help residents reconnect with friends and family

“The Neighbourhood Group is thrilled to be involved in this vital work of providing more permanent, affordable and supportive housing to vulnerable people in Toronto,” aid Bill inclair, president of The Neighbourhood Group. “We look forward to welcoming the new residents, meeting our new neighbours and working closely with our partner Cota.”

The City’s Modular Housing Initiative will see 250 new homes built in two phases. The first 100 homes are Phase I. In Phase II, the City will deliver an additional 150 supportive homes in 2021. The full capital cost for the 250 homes is $47.5 million. Funding of $28.75 million is coming from the City’s Development Charges Reserve Fund for Subsidized Housing, and $18.75 million is from the Government of Canada through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Affordable Housing Innovation Fund in grants and recoverable loans.

Additional programs are planed to create even more modular supportive housing in 2021. The cost of acquisition of land and construction of modular housing; acquisition of land and existing buildings for the purpose of conversion to affordable housing; and acquisition of land and rehabilitation of housing are eligible expenses under the RHI program. The City has requested operating funding for wraparound support services and housing subsidies from the Province.

“Cota is excited to be part of another new modular housing development at 321 Dovercourt Rd. It has created desperately needed permanent affordable housing for people experiencing chronic homelessness in our city,” said Paul Bruce, CEO, Cota Health. “We look forward to working with The Neighbourhood Group and to providing support to tenants as they transition to their home and begin a new chapter in their lives.”

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