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Toronto's pilot rapid-built homes to be ready in December

Mayor John Tory and Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen make an announcement in Toronto. CITYNEWS

Fifty-six Torontonians will get the keys to their new homes as early at December, as part of a rapid housing pilot program from the City of Toronto and Federal government.

Construction is already underway on a three-story modular building that is being assembled on city-owned property near Danforth and Victoria Park Avenues in Scarborough.

Mayor John Tory and councillors approved the plan in spring 2020. Coun. Ana Bailao said that the mayor contacted her with an extra sense of urgency earlier this year as the economic consequences of the pandemic began to be clear.

Bailao noted that Toronto first committed to building rapid modular housing in 2010 as part of its 10-year housing strategy.

“We simply had to come up with says in which we could produce affordable housing and supportive housing faster,” Tory said today at a press conference at the building site, 11 Macey Ave. “It’s often the case even when the city owns a piece of land like this one, it takes two to three years for it to actually get built.”

The modular housing is pre-built in Ontario and assembled on-site. Each unit comes delivered with all the furniture inside. When it’s done, the building will also have common areas for residents and an office for the non-profits that will run the building.

Federal Minister of Social Development Ahmed Hussen said that the modular building is a badly needed first step.

“Modular homes are fast and they are cost-effective,” Hussen said. “In these trying times they are one of the best solutions for producing affordable housing for those in need.”

Between the Macey Avenue site and a second location, 100 new units of housing are slated to be done by the end of the year.

The two sites make up Phase One of the pilot project, costing $20.9 million. The City of Toronto is chipping in $12.65 million, plus the land. The Canadian government is contributing $8 million in grants and loans.

Funding is also set for a phase two, which would deliver another 150 units of housing in 2021.

The federal share of the money comes out of its $8.25 million fund for affordable housing innovation, which is part of the government’s 10-year national housing strategy.

In September, the federal government also announced a $1-billion initiative that is meant to cover construction of more modular housing and also help cities buy properties for quick conversion to affordable housing. Hussen said to expect further news on rapid housing soon.

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