The City of Toronto has revealed the two new locations that will serve as the second phase of its modular housing initiative. The sites, located in Willowdale and East York, will create approximately 128 modular homes -- 64 at each of the City-owned sites.

Located at 175 Cummer Avenue, next to Willdowdale Manor, and on the corner lot at Trenton and Cedarvale avenues, the new projects will be roughly 20% bigger than the modular homes in Phase 1, which house around 50 units each.

In the lead up to deciding on the new sites, the City and CreateTO staff evaluated City-owned and controlled land across Toronto using criteria that included local demand for affordable housing, the development potential of the site, current environmental status, local infrastructure, access to public transit, access to health and other community services, as well as the zoning by-law and other considerations.

City staff say they are now in the process of identifying a third City-owned/controlled site that will be appropriate for the development of the next modular housing site under Phase Two. It is expected that this site will be selected and announced by spring 2021.

READ: Second Modular Housing Facility in Toronto Now Open

According to HousingNow TO, the first two sites in Phase 2 will require a Ministers Zoning Order (MZO) to make their fall 2021 delivery deadline – as they are located in “Yellow Belt” neighbourhood zoned areas of the City.

HousingNow TO, which monitors progress and activity on 17 sites proposed under Mayor John Tory's Housing Now plan for creating affordable rental units, says it will be supporting both of the new modular homes' sites (and their MZOs) as they go through the public-meeting process in March and April.

HousingNow TO says it expects similar "homeowner and neighbourhood push-back" similar to what was experienced for the Phase 1 Macey and Harrison sites in 2020.

"Homelessness knows no boundaries. It is both visible and invisible for too many in our community. The pandemic has only increased the urgent need to support residents into permanent, stable housing," said Councillor Brad Bradford, Beaches-East York.

"Modular housing will help provide a fast response to homelessness, relieving the burden on our shelter system, and supporting our most vulnerable residents. With support from other levels of government, the City can provide people experiencing homelessness permanent homes. By also providing the supports needed to succeed, our community members and neighbours can start new chapters in their lives."

Modular housing can be constructed more quickly than permanent housing because the materials are prefabricated in a factory and then transported to the site where they can be assembled at a lower cost and in a shorter timeframe than traditional housing construction models.

But above all, modular housing provides immediate relief for hundreds of people living without a home, especially during the COVID pandemic when access to shelters is limited due to increased safety measures.

Modular housing has been successfully used in many jurisdictions in North America including Edmonton and Vancouver in Canada, and Boston and Los Angeles in the United States.

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