Modular housing development led by the Neighbourhood Group and COTA Health to offer integrative, community-based care to residents

Rendering of modular housing development

An artist rendering illustrates a modular housing building in Scarborough that will house people experiencing street homelessness as they transition to stable housing.

The Neighbourhood Group (TNG) and COTA Health (Cota) have been selected as the successful proponents in relation to the City of Toronto’s Phase 1-Modular Housing Request for Proposal (RFP) call.

This modular housing initiative, which will create 100 new units of affordable and supportive housing, is part of the HousingTO 2020–2030 Action Plan. It is a City priority due to the increased pressures on Toronto’s shelter system due to COVID-19.

As a result, TNG and Cota will be working collaboratively to operate and provide support services at both at 11 Macey Avenue (56 units) and 150 Harrison Street (44 units) for the next 35 years.

Within this arrangement, TNG will be acting as the housing operator and assuming responsibility for landlord functions, property maintenance and the provision of a meal program. Cota will be providing 24/7/365 on-site support services to the tenants of each site.

Homelessness, housing and mental health advocates have consistently called for greater government investment in modular housing, which is viewed as a rapid response to an urgent need for supportive housing.

COVID-19 has exacerbated the need for integrative supportive housing for people who are homeless. Kegan Harris, director of housing development at TNG, says there will be “an emphasis on tailoring supports to people’s needs to ensure access to adequate services” at the Scarborough and west end units.

Cota has both the experience and ability to provide a variety of services to meet each tenant’s unique needs and desires. These services will aim to assist tenants in maintaining housing stability, health and wellness.

Cota will also work with the units’ tenants to facilitate referrals and connections with community supports and services like volunteer and employment opportunities and income assistance programs.

Paul Bruce, CEO of Cota, says he hopes to work with Cota’s ETHP partners to connect its Macey Avenue tenants with primary care and other health and social services that individual tenants may benefit from.

“The provision of affordable and supportive housing, delivered through this Phase-1 Modular Housing initiative, will go a long way in contributing to selected tenants’ abilities to thrive and reach their full potential,” Paul says.

“That said, this initiative’s overall success will undoubtedly rely on the collective efforts of the local community and our colleague health and social service providers,” he continues. “We have a unique opportunity to work together to inspire positive change in our community and the in lives the tenants of 11 Macey Avenue. We look forward to working with TNG and the East Toronto Health Partners to welcome these new residents to our community and to offer them the support to be successful.”

It is well known that access to a safe, affordable and supportive place to live is a fundamental social determinant of health and wellbeing for all people.

In addition, there is a growing body of evidence which indicates the cost of housing for someone who is experiencing chronic homelessness is actually lower than emergency shelter, hospital and/or justice system alternatives.