There has been a lot of activity with affordable housing in the last several months. Although the County is generally responsible for social welfare issues, the new Cobourg Council has allocated budget and support to a couple of projects and more are likely. But there are also charitable organizations that are active in helping with affordable housing – notably Habitat for Humanity. Instead of a focus on making rents affordable, Habitat works at promoting affordable home ownership. And now the local group, Habitat for Humanity Northumberland (HFHN), has announced the establishment of “a chapter of its organization to investigate the development of a tiny homes project in West Northumberland”. The idea of “Tiny Homes” is spreading throughout the world and could be another way to help with the housing problem faced by those with a low income.
The chapter will be called Think Tiny Homes Northumberland (TTHN) and is chaired by Nicole Beatty. It will work in partnership with other groups such as the County and according to their Press release, the first pilot project hopes to:
…build a micro village of 10 tiny homes (in Port Hope). The homes will be managed by HFHN and will follow its ownership model. There could also be an opportunity for nonprofit partners to purchase a home and use it for their own purposes. All of this and more will be dependent on feasibility, availability of land, zoning, public engagement, permits and fundraising.
At top-right is an image of what one might look like. This one is 400 sq. ft. and made by a U.S. Commercial company.
Habitat for Humanity Northumberland Executive Director Meaghan Macdonald also said:
This is an innovative project for Habitat for Humanity to consider expanding its work in Northumberland while diversifying affordable options in the housing mix. The chapter model follows best practice across Canada but a Habitat chapter dedicated to building affordable tiny homes would be the first of its kind.
They want interested volunteers, businesses and nonprofit agencies to contact them for further information or to get involved with the project.
Generally, the smallest living space allowed in Cobourg seems to be 300 square feet and Tiny homes are often around that size.
But a google search of the concept shows that the idea is not without problems – for example, many solutions involve using mobile homes to get around zoning restrictions and I also wondered why the new group made certain choices. So I asked Meaghan some questions and she was quick to provide answers.
|Why was Port Hope chosen as the location?
|The original citizens group convened in Port Hope after feeling that there is a gap in affordable housing options in the municipality. Based on the success of the pilot the TTHN chapter would hope to expand the housing model across the County.
|What’s the difference between mobile homes and Tiny homes?
|For the purpose of this project TTHN is defining a tiny house to be a maximum square footage of 650 square feet. Tiny homes are built to reflect the quality of a normal house but on a smaller scale. The tiny homes created for this pilot micro village will not be mobile.
|Is there any connection with the County’s effort to provide affordable housing?
|TTHN is committed to coordinating and aligning projects with the County’s affordable housing strategy.
|Are Tiny homes currently allowed by housing regulations? Will your committee have to campaign for an exception?
|Seeking the necessary zoning and by-law approvals will be essential to the success of this project. This is a key priority as part of TTHN’s feasibility plan.
It certainly seems to be an innovative idea and should appeal to many – even if it’s only a starting point.
- Habitat for Humanity Northumberland
- Press Release from Habitat for Humanity Northumberland
- Simplicity Homes – U.S. Commercial builder of Tiny homes