On 15th November, on the first official day of the new Toronto City Council term, Mayor John Tory announced the opening of 59 new modular homes with support services for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Mayor Tory was joined for the announcement by Councillor Brad Bradford (Beaches-East York) and Anne Babcock, President and CEO of WoodGreen Community Services.
Only a year after on-site construction began, the building at 540 Cedarvale Ave. (“Cedarvale”) is opening and will welcome residents later this month. WoodGreen Community Services was selected as the non-profit housing provider through a competitive process earlier this year and will offer quality, affordable rental homes with a range of health and social supports for new residents. WoodGreen has been operating in the east end of Toronto for 85 years and provides a full range of services and expertise to enhance the quality of life of seniors.
Cedarvale will specialize in housing single seniors exiting homelessness or with insecure housing. Residents will have access to experienced staff in the building 24/7, consisting of professionals who are trained to support vulnerable seniors to improve their health and wellbeing. The 59 new homes will be studio apartments, each with a kitchen and a bathroom. The new building will also have common amenities for residents including a dining room, a laundry room and programming space, as well as administrative offices and a commercial kitchen that can provide on-site meals for residents.
The three-story building is the result of a partnership between federal, provincial, and municipal governments, combining federal capital funding through the Rapid Housing Initiative, provincial operating funding for support services and municipal capital funding, land and project delivery.
The homes are part of the City of Toronto’s rapid response, launched in the height of the COVID-19 pandemic to create 3,000 new affordable and supportive housing opportunities in fewer than two years. In September 2020, Council approved the 24-Month COVID-19 Housing and Homelessness Recovery Response Plan aimed at creating 2,000 supportive homes and 1,000 portable housing benefits in 2021 and 2022 for people experiencing homelessness. Thanks to the support of other orders of government and its non-profit and Indigenous housing partners, the City is currently on track to exceed these targets and has secured funding to deliver more than 3,600 new affordable and supportive housing opportunities.
Earlier this year, Council requested the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada to support the City’s new 24-Month Plan Housing Recovery and Resilience Plan (2023 and 2024) to deliver 4,000 additional affordable rental and supportive housing opportunities by the end of 2024.
More than 8,000 people are experiencing homelessness in Toronto. To respond to this urgent need, modular construction provides a unique opportunity to respond rapidly and create more permanent affordable homes for people experiencing homelessness, while reducing pressure on the City’s shelter system. Cedarvale demonstrates the continued value of rapid modular building methods, with on-site construction completed in 12 months, despite a challenging national and international construction and supply chain environment. By contrast, traditional construction projects can take from 18 months to 24 months of on-site construction to complete.
These high-quality and energy-efficient homes are prefabricated in a factory in Cambridge, Ontario, and then transported to the site where they are assembled. Modular construction enables the City to build homes quickly, cost-effectively, and in an environmentally sustainable way. All modular affordable housing projects proceeding in 2021 and 2022 are achieving Tier 2 of the Toronto Green Standard. Delivering energy efficient housing options contributes to the City’s TransformTO net zero strategy.
The homes at 540 Cedarvale Ave. are part of the second phase of the Modular Housing Initiative (MHI), approved by Council on April 30, 2020. One hundred homes were completed in the first phase at 321 Dovercourt Rd. (Davenport) and 11 Macey Ave. (Scarborough Southwest). Phase Two of the initiative plans to deliver 150 new modular homes with supports across three sites in Toronto. The MHI is funded through a partnership between the City and the federal government, with the City contributing $28.75 million in capital funding and the federal government providing $18.75 million through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).
The creation of the new supportive housing at 540 Cedarvale Ave. is helping to advance the HousingTO 2020-2030 Action Plan. The plan targets the approval of 40,000 new affordable rental homes with 18,000 supportive homes, including 1,000 modular homes, to help increase housing stability for Toronto residents.