Before the Christmas holidays I sent a letter out to Mr. Ted McMeekin who is the Minister for Housing in Ontario. Here is some of what I said:
… For the last number of years however, I been heavily involved in the tiny house community as a writing activist. It is due to these cross overs perhaps, that I have come to understand that tiny house communities are a perfect solution for many members of the homeless community. Due to your recent article in the Anvil, I felt that I really must touch base with you.
While many communities now have tiny house communities that serve the most vulnerable sectors of our society, it is the work that has been done in Dallas Texas that I think touches on all of the key factors. I invite you to read this article.
I am not sure if you have heard, but I recently, I spearheaded the build of a tiny house in Hamilton Ontario for a homeless woman named Fred. This tiny house is NOT a house. What it is, exactly, is a very small insulated room, with no amenities. But the community around Fred’s house has spoken loud and clear, dozens of neighbours came over to thank us as we built this little place for her. They have been supporting her financially since she arrived there months ago and moved under a pile of pallets. They bring her food, gifts, money, cigarettes. …. This “tiny house – insulated room”, with a locked door and a window is not the solution, but it is, at the very least a significantly better solution than having her sleep in a pile of pallets on the ground. You can see more about Fred’s House on my blog, the link is below and most of my posts have been about her for the last two weeks.
The thing is, that this little project to build a $2000 shelter for one, it touched the hearts of so many people. Lowes has let me know that they want to sponsor us for as many as we can build – and this is your riding. This means, materials at cost and some things thrown in. Fred’s house is good, I think, but it is not great. It seems to me that we can find a significantly better solution! I feel that for $5000 per unit, land and cooperation from the city that we could build a community of these houses up to code (except size). Any existing house that has a large yard, that is central – close to shopping and services, and that can be rezoned for multi occupancy would be a perfect solution. The existing house could act as the laundry, office space for counsellors and a spare room for the guests of a community and the community itself could be built around it. 20 or thirty tiny houses would make for a great pilot project. These houses should be 200 square feet (I have attached a sample floor plan), they should be built to code but pigtail off of the existing structure for water, power and sewage.
My questions: What do you think? Can you find us some space? Can you edit the zoning for size and can we do this? Can we strike while the iron is hot?
With kind regards,
The response I got back was swift. In less than two hours he wrote back from his blackberry.
Thanks so much for your thoughtful aand hopefully helpful note. I will pass it on to key people in my Ministry and our government for their review.
Regards of the Christmas/holiday season.
Then this harumph – AKA: brush off letter arrived yesterday.
January 6, 2016
Dear Ms. Moreland:
I am writing to thank you for sharing information about tiny house communities with the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Our government believes that every Ontarian deserves to have a stable, affordable home. Stable and secure housing is a key factor that determines social well-being and health. This includes access to education and employment, as well as the resources and supports that people need to thrive. That is why we developed our Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy in 2010; it was the first strategy of its kind for Ontario, and I am proud of the real impact it has had.
Our Poverty Reduction Strategy committed our government to update the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy. Our vision for the updated housing strategy is that “every person has an affordable, suitable, and adequate home to provide the foundation to secure employment, raise a family, and build strong communities.”
Our government is updating the strategy to reflect lessons learned and new research on best practices related to housing and preventing homelessness. This includes exploring a range of approaches to encourage the private sector to develop more affordable housing. The strategy update will ensure that we continue to make progress on a system of housing and homelessness prevention, which meets the housing needs of Ontarians.
I invite you to read more about our update to the Long-Term Affordable Housing Strategy on our website. The link to our portal can be found at: http://www.ontario.ca/affordablehousing.
In Ontario, municipal Service Managers – such as the City of Hamilton – are responsible for managing local housing and homelessness prevention systems, as they know their communities best. I encourage you to contact City of Hamilton Housing Services to discuss the ideas presented in the materials you have provided. They can be reached at:
Housing Services Division
City of Hamilton
350 King Street East, Unit 110
Hamilton, ON L8N 3Y3
Tel: (905) 546-2424
Once again, thank you for sharing your thoughts on this issue with me.
Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
So… I wonder if Hamilton Housing Services is interested?
I think they should be given the stats when you look at these numbers and compare them to other cities you will be that Hamilton is really falling short.
Tiny houses are not just sustainable and a place that allows people like me to enjoy more free time because of the low cost of living in them. They are a perfect solution for very low income people. One can build a no frills tiny house for very little money – If you can hook up to electricity for heat – and also water and sewage systems they are very easy to live in. We must pressure our government at every single level.
Any more thoughts from you?