YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin executive director Lindsay Rice, left, Doug Tarry of Doug Tarry Homes and St. Thomas Mayor Joe Preston break ground on a 40-unit affordable housing development at 21 Kains St. on Monday, May 15, 2023. (Calvi Leon/The London Free Press) Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The builder and social agency behind a new affordable housing project that broke ground in St. Thomas on Monday are moving fast to tackle a critical need in the community.

St. Thomas home builder Doug Tarry Homes and YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, along with Sanctuary Homes, will turn the brownfield at 21 Kains St. into a community of 40 tiny homes and on-site support for youth, families and individuals facing homelessness or at risk of being homeless.

“We are more than shovel-ready. We are in action. We are ready to build,” said Lindsay Rice, executive director of YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin, non-profit supporting women and their families.

The agency is waiting to hear about its request to the federal government through its rapid housing initiative, a program started in 2020 that provides money to organizations and cities to build affordable housing.

If the money is approved, builders must complete at least 25 per cent of the housing — or 10 tiny homes — by December.

“We have to put the pipe in the ground now so the site is ready for foundation,” said Doug Tarry, president of Doug Tarry Homes.

Project Tiny Hope will feature one-, two-, and three-bedroom rental units ranging in size from 400 to 700 square feet (37 to 65 square metres) and will be net-zero to provide a more energy-efficient, less expensive option.

Doug Tarry Homes plans to make the expenses and materials for the tiny net-zero homes open source so others can use it as a reference for similar developments.

“We’re going to make that open book, white paper,” Tarry said.

“We’ll very gladly share our knowledge base with other communities because this isn’t a St. Thomas problem. This is a North American problem,” he said of the housing crisis.

YWCA St. Thomas-Elgin is working with the city to determine which individuals will move into the first 10 homes.

“We’re not taking applications. It’s more of a process identified with the folks already experiencing housing instability,” Rice said, adding that would also include women using the YWCA’s women’s residence downtown.

St. Thomas, a city of 43,000, has more than 1,000 people on the social housing waiting list and more than 100 on the list of people experiencing homelessness.

Despite YWCA’s success in raising more than $5.5 million, cash donations are “desperately needed,” Rice said.

The city, represented by Mayor Joe Preston and councillors at Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony, has pledged $3 million toward the project on the condition the YWCA secures provincial and federal dollars.

The need for affordable housing “continues to be strong,” Preston said.

“From a market rent or affordability housing point of view, we need to do more,” he said.

“We need to be a stronger force in our city, and the city’s pushing all that we can. We’d love another set of people to come forward and another group of organizations to come forward, and we’ll help them, too.”



By Calvi Leon, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on May 15, 2023 at 19:08

This item reprinted with permission from   London Free Press   London, Ontario
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