A stable home and supports will empower residents to thrive at 340 Richmond in London, Ontario. This heritage building was empty for nearly a decade. A recent transformation has turned it into safe, affordable and supportive housing for vulnerable youth aged 16 to 21.
3 Key Goals
Adding 6 affordable units to London’s housing stock.
Renovations to make the upper floors of the heritage building accessible proved to be a challenge.
Expect the unexpected when renovating older buildings. Working with experts is well worth the time and investment.
Project scope and expected outcomes
A long-time youth housing provider reimagines a historical building
Youth Opportunities Unlimited (Y.O.U.) has been serving youth for over 35 years. Y.O.U.’s mission is to help young people access:
- stable housing
- life-skills training
- counselling to empower them for a brighter future
The organization acts as a resource hub. It has partnered with community and government organizations and 22 businesses. This maximises resources and brings new synergies to addressing youth housing needs. This approach has enabled residents to thrive in the long-term.
Homeless shelters and hotels aren’t the way for kids transitioning out of foster care to start life
Youth transitioning out of foster care are effectively homeless, and the Children's Aid Society has limited permanent housing options.
These kids are sometimes housed in hotels or adult homeless shelters. Neither is a viable solution. These settings place young adults in unsupervised and unsafe environments where they’re often exposed to drugs or violence and vulnerable to sex traffickers.
340 Richmond provides housing for kids aging out of the care of the Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex.
Renovations at 340 Richmond provide more safe and supportive housing for youth
Y.O.U. started renovations on 340 Richmond in 2017. The heritage building was built in 1885 and originally had a commercial unit on its main floor. 1- and 2-bedroom units were on its second and third floors.
The project is located in downtown London. It’s close to transit, healthcare, schools, a library and a community centre. It’s surrounded by a mix of residential and commercial properties.
The renovations transformed the building into a safe and supportive home for young adults leaving the care of The Children's Aid Society of London and Middlesex.
- The renovations added 2 units to the building, for a total of 6 units.
- There are 4 bachelor suites and 2 one-bedroom units on the second and third floors – 1 unit is for a live-in support worker.
- The main floor provides space for resident services, including a computer lab, employment resource centre and interview room.
Residents have their own apartment and learn important life skills through Y.O.U. programs and services – and through the supports offered by community agency partners. They have full access to these offerings during their stay in the building.
They can continue to tap into these resources when they move on to more permanent housing. This continuum of support improves long-term outcomes.
Youth-centred hub provides a holistic approach
340 Richmond builds on Y.O.U.’s previous project, The Cornerstone, at 332 Richmond Street. Another project, New Addition, is planned across the street from 340 and 332 Richmond. Together, these projects will create a campus-style Youth Wellness Hub that will provide services designed for young adults. There will be specialized services for women and girls.
Partnering for youth housing that’s affordable now – and for at least 50 years into the future
The total project cost of 340 Richmond was $1,962,828.
CMHC provided financing through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund – Revitalization stream. All the units at 340 Richmond are affordable and are less than 80% of the local average market rent.
They’ll also remain affordable for at least 50 years.
- $520,611 in financing through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund – Revitalization stream.
- Seed Funding to help cover costs during the early stages of development. This included professional appraisal, energy modeling studies and project drawings.
Y.O.U contributed $387,484 in cash equity.
The City of London supported 340 Richmond through a number of its municipal initiatives, including the London Community Foundation.
Contributions to support the project also came from other partners, including:
- Home Depot
- Sisters of St. Joseph
- community donations
The National Housing Co-Investment Fund has accessibility requirements. The project team incorporated accessibility features as much as possible, given the limitations of the heritage building. The main floor of the building has:
- wider doors and automatic openers
- washrooms with wider doors and automatic openers
- washroom stalls, hand basins and hand dryers configured for accessibility (hardware and height and width to accommodate wheelchair access)
- an accessible classroom and computer lab
Renovating the apartments on the second and third floors to modern accessibility standards proved to be unfeasible.
For the Revitalization stream of the program, some flexibilities may be allowed when projects can’t meet minimum requirements.
In the case of 340 Richmond, the original design of the 1885 building made it impossible to renovate to modern accessibility standards. The project provides additional housing and builds on a holistic approach to addressing the housing and support needs of vulnerable youth – a target group of the National Housing Strategy. These benefits allowed the project to qualify for Co-Investment Fund financing.
The project is achieves a 47% reduction in energy consumption and a 49% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, meeting the Co-Investment Fund’s program requirements.
Initiative Name: 340 Richmond
Location: London, Ontario
National Housing Strategy Initiative:
- Youth Opportunities Unlimited
- City of London
- London Community Foundation
- Home Depot
- Sisters of St. Joseph
- Community donations
National Housing Strategy Priority Areas:
- Young adults