By Michelle Poirier

Eight transitional housing units will be built in Sutton, and another 16 in East Gwillimbury, after the Ontario government pledged $7.3 million towards the Housing York Inc. project.

The eight units will be located behind The Salvation Army Youth Shelter’s site at 20898 Dalton Rd.

The housing is geared towards young people experiencing homelessness, and The Salvation Army will provide on-site supports, the Ontario Government news release says.

“Our government recognizes the importance of providing life-changing projects to ensure vulnerable people in York Region, including youth, get access to safe housing during COVID-19 and beyond,” said Caroline Mulroney, MPP for York-Simcoe, in the release.

“These units will provide a home for those who need it most along with access to critical services to help people work through their challenges with the support of compassionate professionals.” 

The units in Sutton “are designed to house and support youth age 16 to 26 at risk of or experiencing homelessness. The combination of one and two-bedroom units will provide flexibility for youth, allowing them to live independently on their own, with a partner, a family member or with a roommate,” Debbie Thompson, York Region’s Director of Homelessness Community Programs, said.

“Transitional housing provides a safe, secure and supportive environment in the community with individualized supports to help people stay housed. Supports are designed to increase a person’s skills to prepare them to live independently.”

Ms. Thompson said the tenants, youths aged 16-26, would be selected from York Region’s By-Name List, a list of people currently experiencing homelessness, managed by York Region’s Collaborative Table, comprised of service providers in York Region.

The cost of rent for the units will be geared to household income, Ms. Thompson said.

The region will allow youth to reside for up to one year in their unit while accessing the programs and supports available to them at Sutton Youth Services; this will help increase their life skills and gain greater independence, Ms. Thompson said.

At the end of their stay, due to the shortage of affordable housing in York Region, tenants will also be provided support to access shared private market rental housing.

According to a presentation from Housing York Inc., the building project will utilize modular construction elements, which are pre-engineered and brought to the site for assembly. This process has been used for several affordable housing projects in Canada.

Though building material costs have increased during the pandemic, the $7.3 million project budget is intended to fully fund the project with a contingency built-in for unknown variables, Josh Scholten, York Region’s Director of Housing Development and Asset Strategy, said.

According to the media release, York Region will be launching community consultations on the project and construction is expected to begin in late May and be completed by December 2021.

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