Canada needs more affordable housing and its construction is one of the key goals of the National Housing Strategy. The Raising the Roof’s Reside program transforms existing vacant homes into affordable and supportive housing for at-risk youth. With its partner BuildingUp, it also hires and trains at-risk individuals to renovate those homes alongside experienced contractors. This allows youth to start a career in the trades while increasing the housing supply.
The Affordable Housing Options demonstration project will showcase the program through the stories of the at-risk youth it engages and helps. Its goal is to show partners in government, housing development and construction the potential for this approach. It will also illustrate how working in partnership with diverse groups can inspire diverse partnerships to preventing homelessness.
3 Key Innovations
Sets rent levels at roughly 60% of Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) average market rents, making homes affordable to the most vulnerable individuals.
Reduces the costs of affordable housing development by leveraging underutilized assets in communities through a long-term lease arrangement.
Mitigates risk associated with developing new units, such as costs of below-grade environmental issues.
Project scope and expected outcomes
Affordable and supportive housing options
The Reside program seeks to create affordable, supportive housing options for vulnerable people to prevent them from experiencing homelessness. It does this by taking existing vacant homes and repurposing them.
The Raising the Roof organization raises the funds to refurbish the homes and hires its partner, BuildingUp, to do the renovations. BuildingUp hires and trains at-risk people to work alongside experienced contractors to complete the renovations. This gives them work experience and a chance to enter a career in the trades. The renovated homes are then leased to a non-profit housing provider as supportive or longer-term housing for at-risk people.
Using existing housing stock and infrastructure
The homes renovated are offered at below-market rent. This makes them affordable to the most vulnerable individuals at risk of homelessness. The target rent levels are approximately 60% of the average market rents for the area, as reported by CMHC.
Reside’s approach also reduces the costs of developing affordable housing. By using the underutilized housing stock and infrastructure that exists in every community, it can keep development costs lower. It also can mitigate risks associated with developing new units.
Strengthening partnerships and achieving better outcomes
The program also partners with other organizations, seeking to reduce homelessness by providing affordable housing. The demonstration project will showcase how that partnership model draws on the respective strengths of the partners. This, in turn, has a profound impact on individuals and communities. It also strengthens partnerships and achieves better outcomes.
For instance, Reside partners with BuildingUp and the Endeavour School to ensure that the home renovations are environmentally sustainable. That partnership also provides specialized training in sustainable building practices and retrofits for BuildingUp participants. This helps develop invaluable skills for at-risk individuals as they learn and promotes their social and economic inclusion.