CMHC has collaborated with the City of Toronto to create an impactful initiative to assist people experiencing homelessness in Canada’s largest city.
With the help of $18.75 million in grants and recoverable loans from the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund, the City of Toronto will build 250 modular units. The $47.5-million project is divided into 2 phases and will create permanent, high-quality homes. This will help ensure all residents of Toronto have a home that they can afford and that meets their needs.
This will be the City’s first-ever modular housing project. Modular housing provides a unique and rapid solution to the urgent homelessness situation, while also reducing pressure on shelters.
Planning for the project was already underway, with occupancy expected in early 2021, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Working with the City, CMHC was able to react quickly to explore available options and respond to the urgency of the situation.
The project was fast-tracked because the need for safe and stable housing for people experiencing homelessness became even more urgent. Expediting the project means that much-needed housing will be ready sooner; the first units should be occupied in about 4 months.
The City is currently conducting site selection, and the priority will be finding sites near public transit, community and social services. The City is also looking specifically at sites that can be leased long term, so that the project can provide permanent and stable housing.
The first phase will have 110 homes, should be ready by September 2020, and will provide housing and support services to people experiencing homelessness. The second phase of 140 homes should be ready for occupancy in early 2021.
The benefits of modular housing
Modular housing is manufactured in a factory-controlled environment and then brought to the building site for installation and finishing. Modular housing can offer a number of cost-saving advantages over site-built housing, including:
- faster construction times, meaning that housing can be built quickly when needed most, providing homes for people experiencing homelessness or during a crisis, for example
- quick and easy installation on a variety of sites, such as tight urban properties, environmentally sensitive sites and remote rural areas
- indoor, climate-controlled manufacturing environments that allow construction to take place year-round without the delays and extra costs associated with extreme weather and temperature changes
- the reduction of material losses and theft, since manufacturing facilities tend to be more secure than construction sites
- the use of precise manufacturing equipment and processes that can improve air-sealing and overall quality control
The Affordable Housing Innovation Fund — building the next generation of housing
Launched in 2016, the Affordable Housing Innovation Fund is a $200-million fund for encouraging new funding models and innovative building techniques in affordable housing. The Fund will create up to 4,000 new affordable housing units over 5 years.
The Innovation Fund supports the development of innovative approaches to affordable housing, creates inclusive and accessible communities and contributes to the fight against homelessness.
The Fund’s scope of eligible projects includes affordable homeownership, retrofit models and affordable rental projects.
Among the other innovative initiatives the Fund has supported are:
- the first multi-residential high-rise building retrofit to Passive House certification standards in Canada (Hamilton, ON)
- the creation of the Housing Investment Corporation (HIC), a lending institution that supports the construction or renewal of affordable housing
- Canada’s first net-zero high-rise in Sudbury, ON, which will achieve near net-zero energy and water consumption and waste production
- a 24-unit apartment building in Whistler, BC, that uses a prefabricated wall panel assembly system to achieve Passive House certification standards at no additional cost