Windsor micro-house project goes national with federal funds

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A research team from Windsor wants to help homeowners and policy makers solve the community housing problem by providing them with more information on how and where people can build secondary suites on private property.

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“(The Project) is an interactive online mapping tool that allows users to see if it is physically possible to build an additional housing unit (ADU) on their property,” said Sarah Cipkar, one of the principal researchers of

And thanks to $ 2.2 million in funding announced Tuesday by local MP Irek Kusmierczyk (L — Windsor-Tecumseh), what started as a Windsor-based project will soon allow additional housing units to be mapped and tracked. in the 100 largest cities in Canada.

The project, led by Family Services Windsor-Essex and researchers Cipkar and Frazier Fathers, is funded by the federal Housing Supply Challenge, which provides money for projects that find innovative solutions to Canada’s housing crisis.

Additional (or accessory) living units are small residential units that owners build on their existing property, usually in backyards or alleys, commonly known as Grandma’s Apartments or Mother-in-Law’s Suites. They have grown in popularity since 2018, when the Ontario provincial government began licensing units to help increase the supply of housing.

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“Innovative solutions like the one offered by Family Services Windsor-Essex and their partners are helping us understand how additional housing can help create more affordable housing in our community and across the country,” said Kusmierczyk.

It allows the average homeowner to see what’s possible

Last year, Family Services Windsor-Essex received $ 200,000 to develop the original Windsor concept, based on data from the City of Windsor with contributions from the Center for Cities and the Cross Border Institute.

The result is, a website where property owners, researchers and policy makers can find information on where DSUs might be a good fit in the community, taking into account the requirements of the zoning by-law.

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More than 29,000 lots in the city of Windsor could accommodate an ADU, researchers found. If even part of those properties had an ADU, Cipkar said it could make a significant dent in the city’s housing supply problem.

“Family Services is really working on the front lines, trying to help those who don’t have access to safe and affordable housing,” said Joyce Zuk, Executive Director of Windsor-Essex Family Services. “It is exciting for us to be now fully engaged in the research aspect of seeking to create a more affordable housing stock.

With the additional $ 2.2 million in funding, researchers and partners will expand the project to Canada’s 100 largest cities over the next year and a half. It provides a roadmap for policy makers, city staff, and even homeowners considering the benefits of adding an additional unit.

“What we hope this tool will do is give researchers the tools to compare (different sets of regulations) and allows researchers to create better outcomes for their neighborhoods, ”Cipkar said.

“It lets the average homeowner see what’s possible.”

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