Sunday November 19, 2017
Imaginative solutions for an overheated housing market
more stories from this episode
- Michael's essay — Helicopter parents and caregivers are going too far to protect kids
- What are smartphones doing to young people?
- How an Anglo-Saxon parable inspires a young woman with a visual impairment
- A colonial-era statue hits the water
- 'Trump is right. The West needs a better relationship with Vladimir Putin': Sir Tony Brenton
- Catherine MacLellan on her father's musical legacy
- Imaginative solutions for an overheated housing market
- Full Episode
This season, we've been exploring Canada's housing crisis in a series we call Home Truths.
We've focussed on the big picture, beginning with housing expert David Hulchanski.
We've heard doomsday prophecies, much hand-wringing and the sounding of alarms. And, no doubt, the situation is bad — especially in big cities, where rents and house prices are beyond the reach of many working people, let alone people on assistance.
But there are some good things happening, including innovative projects and imaginative responses to the lack of affordable homes.
- The Sunday Edition: Why Canada needs a new National Housing Policy — now!
- The Sunday Edition: What's causing Canada's housing crisis?
- The Sunday Edition: Innovative solutions for affordable housing
There are one-of-a-kind housing initiatives to be found all over the country. They often get built quietly and without much fanfare, but they make a huge difference in people's lives.
Paying It Forward in Toronto
Long before Toronto's jet-fueled housing market took off, the "biggest developer you've never heard of" began building condos for people who weren't rolling in cash.
Just over twenty years ago, "Options For Homes" started construction in an ungentrified part of downtown Toronto. Using what's called a "Pay It Forward" purchase model, they helped buyers come up with a down payment.
Since those first three building opened in Toronto's Distillery District, they've created housing for more than 3,500 people.
And they're building more.
Sisterly Support in Vancouver
Vancouver's Downtown East Side is rife with crummy rooming houses that are barely fit for human habitation. They're frightening places, especially for women.
Which makes a place called Oneesan a much sought-after alternative.
It's a structure built out of recycled shipping containers which are stacked three stories high. They sit on a long, skinny 25 by 117 foot lot, which is normally just big enough for one house.
Inside, each unit takes up half a shipping container and has a wall of windows with a view of the harbor or a central courtyard. They're fully finished — with drywall, wooden flooring, all the amenities.
Oneesan, which means older sister in Japanese, maybe diminutive in size. But it's having a sizable impact on the women who live there — all of whom are over 55 and most of whom have experienced violence.
A Green Home for the 'Hard to House' in Ottawa
In Ottawa, in a middle class residential area not too far from the Rideau River, there's a low-rise apartment building that blends right into the neighbourhood.
Karen's Place, also known as Clementine, is run by Salus, a not-for-profit housing corporation whose mandate is to house the "hard to house".
The 4-story building is home to 42 people with severe mental illness, many of whom have spent years "living rough."
Each tenant is now somewhere on the road to independent living, but while they're at Karen's Place, they get their own 400-square-foot bachelor apartment .
That's remarkable enough. But Karen's Place — which opened its doors just over a year ago — is also what's known as
a "passive house."
It was built to meet the most stringent environmental standards in the world, using state-of-the-art materials and clever design — all on a shoestring budget.
One of the earliest tenants at Karen's Place looks like an aging biker. His fingers are festooned with skull rings, but when he rolls through the building in his electric wheelchair, perched on his lap is a tiny and much adored Yorkshire terrier named Charlie.
Click 'listen' above to hear the full segment.