Atlantic, federal housing ministers agree factory-produced homes offer way forward

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Atlantic housing ministers says factory-built homes are the way forward
The federal government will revamp a WWII-style housing plan to speed up the pace of home building in Canada, Housing Minister Sean Fraser announced Tuesday. Fraser said the country is dusting off a program from nearly 80 years ago run by what was at the time known as Wartime Housing Limited to provide standardized housing blueprints to builders that are cost- and labour-effective. Consultations for the program will begin in January 2024 – Jan 15, 2024

The federal and Atlantic provinces’ housing ministers say they’re looking at ways to boost more factory-built housing for the East Coast, as the region’s population keeps rising at a rapid pace.

The ministers said today after a meeting in Halifax that one chapter in the federal housing design catalogue will be specifically aimed at the Atlantic region, with pre-approved designs taking into account regulations, climate and available materials in the region.

Federal Housing Minister Sean Fraser has been promoting the housing catalogue and more factory-built homes as a modernized version of efforts from the post-Second World War era, when the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. developed simple blueprints to accelerate housing construction.

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The housing ministers told journalists after their meeting they’re also eager to see an increase in production of modular housing — homes built in segments in factories and transported to a building site for completion.

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However, Fraser said at this point the move to mass-produced housing for the region is a “framework,” and details of specific, additional funding and programs haven’t been fleshed out.

John Lohr, the Nova Scotia housing minister who chaired the meeting, said he’d like to see results from the push for more factory-produced housing by “mid to late summer,” while also saying, “We need it now, clearly.”

Factory-built housing is one of Ottawa’s responses to strong criticisms over the cost of living, caused in part by rising home prices and rents. The CMHC has estimated that 3.5 million more housing units are needed by 2030 in order to start dealing with the housing affordability issue.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 15, 2024.

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