The City of Toronto announced the opening of 59 new modular homes with support services for individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness.

Only a year after on-site construction began, the building at 540 Cedarvale Ave. will welcome residents in late November. 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.

“Building more affordable and supportive housing faster is a key priority for the City of Toronto,” said Mayor John Tory. “Investing in innovative construction methods like this Modular Housing Initiative means that we can get more affordable, permanent, rental housing built faster and deliver it to the people who need it most. We thank the federal government for contributing to the capital costs to complete this building, and to the provincial government for providing us with the operating funding for support services at this and other new supportive housing locations, so we can ensure the wrap-around support services that these residents need are in place to improve their health and well-being and help them stay housed.”

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.

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“WoodGreen Community Services is pleased to partner with the City of Toronto on this exciting new project. We have a long history of providing transitional and permanent affordable housing for Toronto residents and we look forward to supporting the residents that will call 540 Cedarvale home,” said Anne Babcock, president & CEO, WoodGreen Community Services.

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.

“This is an important day here in Beaches-East York, and for innovation in housing in Toronto. The permanent, affordable rental homes on this site will provide not only new safe and accessible housing, but also on-site supports for our new community members. This work demonstrates that, with modular construction and local collaboration, we can get people into housing in months, not years,” said Councillor Brad Bradford (Beaches-East York).

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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.

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).

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Featured image: (City of Toronto)

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