Raising the Roof opens innovative affordable housing project
Raising the Roof, a national homelessness prevention charity, was recently joined by Kyle Seeback, MP for Dufferin-Caledon, Sylvia Jones, MPP for Dufferin-Caledon, and Allan Thompson, Mayor of the Town of Caledon, to celebrate the opening of Cedar Mains, a newly renovated home which will offer affordable housing for people with disabilities at risk of homelessness.
The launch of the new housing project comes in the midst of a national housing crisis, where more than 35,000 people sleep on the streets every night, and people with disabilities are particularly affected.
In the face of this growing concern, Raising the Roof developed an innovative new program, Reside, which acquires vacant or underutilized homes, renovates and converts them into affordable housing. The first home launched through the program is 1 Cedar Mains Dr. (Cedar Mains).
“Every night, thousands of low-income Canadians sleep on the streets, and people with disabilities are particularly vulnerable,” says Marc Soberano, executive director of Raising the Roof.. “With Reside, we acquire under-utilized homes, fix them up, and offer them as affordable housing to people who need them most. In the process, we restore a local community asset, create training and employment opportunities for people facing barriers through the construction work, and create housing for vulnerable members of our community. Cedar Mains is the first of many homes we aim to convert into affordable as we partner to provide solutions to the housing crisis.”
Prior to the redevelopment, 1 Cedar Mains Dr. was an abandoned heritage church. The property hadn’t been utilized in many years. Envisioning more for the site, Raising the Roof approached the Toronto Region Conservation Authority, owner of the property, requesting the opportunity to access the property through a long-term lease.
The TRCA agreed, providing a 20-year lease to Raising the Roof for just $1. The charity then partnered with social enterprise contractor, Building Up, to complete an extensive renovation on the property. Through the construction work, Building Up provided training and employment opportunities for over 90 people facing barriers to employment, more than 85 per cent of whom went on to careers in the trades.
Raising the Roof then brokered an innovative partnership with CAFFI Housing Inc. to serve as the affordable housing provider, identifying suitable candidates for housing. CAFFI is a Caledon-based non-profit organization operated by parents of adult children with disabilities that provides housing solutions for their children and other people with developmental disabilities facing housing vulnerability.
In executing this project, Raising the Roof benefitted from tremendous community support. The project’s funders included the Home Depot Canada Foundation, the Province of Ontario, the Region of Peel, the Town of Caledon, the Town of Vaughan, Royal Bank of Canada Foundation, Hockey Helps the Homeless, the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Caledon Heritage Society, Social Venture Partners, and the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp.
“Working together with our community partners, The Home Depot Canada is committed to ending youth homelessness and we are so proud to support Raising the Roof with the launch of their new home to support youth that are at risk of homelessness,” says Pam O’Rourke, chair, The Home Depot Canada Foundation and vice-president, merchandising, The Home Depot Canada. “By supporting organizations that provide a safe place to call home and important life-skills programs, we can help bring housing and hope to our most vulnerable youth.”