January 11, 2018

Ottawa development a victory for affordability

Multifaith Housing Initiative (MHI) is an Ottawa-based group known for providing safe and affordable housing for families in need. The group operates several small rental buildings in Ottawa. Recently, however, they decided to take an ambitious step and move from managing single buildings to developing an entire community.

The Haven, a 98-unit development, is the result of this ambitious step. The development offers a mix of affordable and market-rent units, plenty of green space, and a real sense of community. When designing and building the community, MHI focused on three things:

  • Affordability
  • Accessibility
  • Energy efficiency

Using their non-profit status, MHI was able to access funding and tax incentives from all levels of government. This helped them to reduce costs and increase their budget. Other cost-cutting measures included:

  • raising donations from MHI’s members to lower the amount of financing and reduce mortgage payments
  • relying on “sweat equity” from volunteers, who will complete maintenance, cleaning and other tasks
  • building the whole community at once, instead of using a costlier phased approach

In terms of accessibility, MHI decided to make 10% of the units fully accessible to people with a disability. Additionally, they committed to making all units fully visitable. Some measures MHI took to ensure accessibility were:

  • hiring an accessibility consultant to make sure every design decision was evaluated for its effect on accessibility
  • having all of the buildings designed with zero-grade entrances
  • opting for wide entrances and hallways, making it easier for people using a walker or wheelchair to move around

Finally, MHI made a commitment to developing an energy-efficient community by including design and construction features such as:

  • a walkable location next to a rapid transit station, eliminating the need for residents to own a car
  • high-efficiency furnaces, hot water heaters and heat recovery ventilators, to lower utility bills
  • water-efficient plumbing fixtures and landscaping

Because of their cost-saving measures and commitment to energy efficiency, MHI was able to build a larger development than planned. Additionally, the energy-efficient design features used should pay for themselves within a few years. After that, residents and MHI will continue to save on their utilities for as long as they live in The Haven.

Learn more about The Haven



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