Tiny Homes for Housing:
Cornerstone Landing Youth Services has been providing support to young people who have experienced or were at risk of Homelessness in Lanark County since 2011. Finding housing for young people has alwasy been a challenge as subsidized housing wait lists are 3-5 years long, landlords are reluctant to rent to young people and the cost of private market housing is often out of their budget.  Hence, Cornerstone Landing has offered rent subsidies to young people to enable them to afford housing. Many youth share accomodations to make it more affordable.  For all of these reasons and more, Cornerstone Landing started to investigate options to build affordable housing. 

History:

As a small non-profit working specifically with youth, we knew we did not want to build or own a large housing complex.  We wanted small individual units, that could be built economically and offered to youth at affordable prices. In 2016, we started talking with Algonquin College in Perth about the possibility of having their students build 1 tiny home per year for us as part of their on-going programming. We loved the idea of having students build our housing for youth. Unfortunately, in 2018 Algonquin College in Perth announced the closure of their Carpentry and Renovation Technician program and sadly were no longer able to build our housing.  Fortunately, in the summer of 2018 we were able to pull together a partnership with Algonquin College as part of a curriculum development project. Together with Architect Gordon Graff, Builder Redwood Homes and volunteer Jason Takerer we were able to build our first Tiny Home prototype to be complete in the summer of 2019.     

Why Tiny Homes:

We get asked this question a lot. So, here are some of the reasons we are advocating for tiny homes:

1. One unit at a time: We are a small organization and accessing capital cost grants for small projects is not always easy.  But we knew we could fundraise the money required to build one tiny home unit at a time and this seemed like a practical approach for us.

2. 1 Bedroom Units:  According to the Lanark County Housing Registry, the greatest need for social housing in Lanark County, is for one bedroom units. Although many of our youth choose to share accomodations out of necessity, many of them would prefer to have their own private space. Tiny Homes fit this gap in housing needs.

3. Smell & Noise: 2 of the most common complaints from people renting in multi-unit buildings is smell and noise. Tiny Homes are typically single detached units and would solve these issues; less exposure to noise and smells. 

4. Emergency Housing: Right now in Lanark County, if you identify as homeless after business hours you will be offered a hotel room for a few days, a room in a boarding house (if available), a drive to Ottawa to access a shelter or you will be left outside.  We think this is unacceptable. So, we want to pilot a Tiny Host Homes Program for emergency housing whereby we place a Tiny Home on Wheels (THOWs) on the private property of a home owner and sign a contract with them to allow the home to be used for short term housing.  The home owner would be the Host and would be paid a per diem for each night that an individual is placed in the tiny home. One of our Housing Case Workers would be assigned to work with the young person to find them long term housing. This model would also remove typical barriers to accessing hotels and shelters such as having pets.

5. Affordable Housing: Not only do we need an appropriate emergency housing solution in Lanark County, we also need more affordable housing options. We don't think that tiny homes are going to solve this issue on their own, but we do think that they can play a significant role. A tiny home suitable for 2 people with 5 appliances can be built for less then 100k.  We need more options of this kind to alleviate the pressures many individuals are experiencing when it comes to rising housing costs. To do this we need what we refer to as 'municipal planning heroes". We need municipalities to amend their Official Plans and Zoning Bi-Laws to permit tiny homes. Restrictive planning decisions such as minimum square footage requirements for new single family homes, allowing only one house per lot and restricting secondary suites, prevent tiny homes from being legally permissible. We thank Tay Valley Township in Lanark County for their leadership in adopting tiny homes as an option in their township and hope others willl follow suit. Ultimately, we at Cornerstone Landing want to have a tiny home village of 3-5 tiny homes to use as long term affordable housing for youth. We also hope the advocacy work that we are doing to encourage tiny homes will help make them accessible to other groups as well, such as single seniors. 
       
For more information or to have a board member come to speak with you about Tiny Homes, please contact Board Chair, Terrilee Kelford at 613-285-9292.