Hamilton tiny shelters project casting ‘fairly wide’ net in search for new location

Click to play video: 'Tiny shelters in Ontario seek to fill gap for those needing permanent housing'
Tiny shelters in Ontario seek to fill gap for those needing permanent housing
WATCH: Tiny cabin communities continue to pop up across Ontario putting a roof over the head of those unhoused seeking a path to more secure accommodations – Dec 2, 2023

The group looking to build a small community of tiny homes for those experiencing homelessness says they have broadened their scope across Hamilton, Ont., in their search for a feasible landing site for their dwellings.

Tom Cooper of Hamilton’s Roundtable for Poverty Reduction says he has no specifics on where they prefer to set up, but an industrial area in the city similar to where some cabins have made a home in Waterloo has potential.

“We’re actually casting the net fairly wide,” Cooper said.

“We’re continuing to talk to folks in the community and even looking at some privately-owned sites.”

Rows of tiny cabins across the Kitchener – Waterloo area have been catching the eye of several communities in Ontario that’ve begun duplicating the model, hoping to bridge the gap between homelessness and permanent housing.

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Cooper says a Better Tent City in Kitchener and NOW Housing’s modular mini homes in Waterloo are successful developments they’ve followed and believe are concepts on the table when they run the idea by council again this year.

“We look at Waterloo, where they have a shuttle bus moving between a fairly rural spot in the downtown core for people who are living at the village who need to attend medical appointments and other social service needs,” Cooper observed.

“So … we can look in the lower city, certainly, but an industrial area might be most appropriate.”

Cooper says finding the right partners and community consultation are some of the moving parts that will take time to iron out, meaning a new spot is not likely to be ready until late 2024 at the earliest.

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“We’re hoping to be able to identify a spot in the first half of 2024 and then maybe over the next six months, start to get the project off the ground,” he said.

“It all depends on finding that spot that’s appropriate.”

So far, stakeholders in the Hamilton Alliance for Tiny Shelters (HATS) project have seen six potential locations for the eight-by-ten foot cabins fall by the wayside since pitched to council almost two years ago.

The last was the Strachan Linear Park site in the West Harbour area, which was pulled back in the second half of 2023 after the agency’s suggested a cost analysis revealed large investments would be needed to make it work this winter.

“Well, you’re dealing with costs like … $300,000 for a communal unit, which has your washrooms and common area and your laundry facilities, etc., all within a unit,” HATS chair Dan Bednis told Global News in October.

Cooper says the challenge is putting up a common area providing washroom and sanitary facilities, like showers, washers and dryers.

“It’s one thing to create a cabin, but in order to move that individual from a situation where they may have been … living in homelessness, they do need additional supports,” he said.

HATS hopes to take a list of new locations to council in the next month or two, according to Cooper.


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