The new tiny home project being developed by Blood Ties Four Directions will “compliment” the territorial government’s housing project at Fifth Street and Wood Street, says executive director Patricia Bacon.
Blood Ties Four Directions, a private not-for-profit, purchased a lot at 6140 Sixth Ave. in October and will build a tiny-home community of five units to create permanent housing for its clients, who often experience homelessness, poverty and health issues. The organization advocates for and supports people in the community with HIV, AIDS or Hepatitis C.
That project will not have 24-hour care or as intensive care as the one being created by the government, but is more for people who don’t “need a social worker in their back pocket all the time,” Bacon said.
“We need a range of options and to provide the right solutions at the right time,” she said. “We can’t expect everyone to need the same thing…. We cannot think about housing as one-size-fits-all.”
The government project, which was announced Nov. 22, is a joint venture between the Department of Health and Social Services and the Yukon Housing Corporation. It is intended to provide affordable, permanent housing for vulnerable people who need ongoing support. When completed in 2019, the facility will have 15 units and provide 24-hour on-site support and is expected to cost $2.7 million.
Both projects are slated to be true housing-first initiatives. Housing first is a philosophy that prioritizes getting permanent homes for vulnerable people before getting them off drugs or alcohol. It differs from a more widely-used housing philosophy known as “housing readiness” which requires addictions and mental health treatment before being admitted into a housing unit.
The Blood Ties project comes out of a successful earlier project, a single-unit tiny home run by the organization, the Steve Cardiff house. That home was on a lot owned by a developer between 2012 and 2016, until the owner asked that it be moved so he could build on the lot. The organization was unable to find another home for the Steve Cardiff house and put it into storage, where it has been ever since. This project will see the Steve Cardiff house and up to four other tiny homes similar to it built on the lot.
The project is “designed to feel like a community,” Bacon said.
The lot is currently zoned for a maximum of four units. A bylaw which would allow for an exception to the zoning and permit all five desired units, passed first reading at the Dec. 11 regular council meeting.
The lot can easily accommodate five units, Bacon said. Having five would make running the project more affordable for Blood Ties, which took a $200,000 loan to purchase to the lot.
That bylaw also asks for an exemption to a requirement for class 1 bicycle parking. That requirement demands that new multi housing units in that area have private or otherwise enclosed storage for bikes, which Bacon said is not practical for tiny housing developments like this one, where space is at a premium.
“We’re building tiny houses,” Bacon said. “There’s no room for that … (and) many clients probably wouldn’t have bicycles anyways.”
“I’m hoping mayor and council sees this as in line with their own affordable housing plans,” she said. “We’re not proposing something garish or out of line with development.”
The issue will receive a public hearing Jan. 15, 2018, with a final vote scheduled for Jan. 29, 2018.
Contact Lori Fox at firstname.lastname@example.org