At a meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, Kingston City Council will be asked to approve nearly $70,000 in spending for a previously announced tiny home project geared toward local veterans. According to a staff report circulating in advance of Tuesday’s meeting, the project, led by Homes for Heroes, will create 20 self-contained tiny home units, which will be made available to precariously housed veterans through a new Veterans’ Village at 730 King Street West.
Homes for Heroes is a Canadian charity that seeks to provide affordable housing options for homeless veterans across the country. The organization has already developed two tiny home communities in Alberta; the Kingston Veterans’ Village will be their first project in Ontario. “The identification of Kingston as the preferred location for the third Homes for Heroes project relates to the community’s long military heritage, including the present-day location of Canadian Forces Base Kingston,” notes the staff report. The project was first announced back in November of 2020.
Prospective residents of the tiny homes will be identified through efforts by Veterans Affairs and local homelessness service providers, as well as other organizations. The report goes on to add that “residents will have been homeless or precariously housed prior to residency at the Homes for Heroes community.” According to staff, there are currently four veterans on the City’s by-name list of homeless people. “One of the three (sic) has been verified, and the other three have not yet had their veteran status verified,” the report adds.
Besides the 20 tiny homes, the Village will also include additional services and supports. Throughout their time at the Village, residents will work with a case manager, who will help them “develop plans to address [their] unique needs.” the report states.
The units are intended to provide residents with “transitional” housing, as stays are expected to last one to three years. Yet the report stresses that “there is no defined deadline, and residents will move on from the project when they have achieved their recovery goals and self-sufficiency.”
Rent for the tiny homes is expected to cost $600 per month, which the report notes is approximately 50 per cent of the average market rent in Kingston. “The affordability level achieved within the project is significant and is intended to be affordable for residents. Homes for Heroes has confirmed the Kingston project will seek to prioritize unhoused veterans from the local community.”
While ground at the 730 King Street West location has already been broken, Council is being asked to provide the project with nearly $70,000 to “support the project’s development cost and facilitate the provision of affordable housing.” In total, the report recommends that Council direct $69,558 from the municipal affordable housing capital budget toward the project. The report adds that such funds would offset the development-related fees that will be collected by the City.
“The development charges payable are significantly reduced resulting from a fee exemption associated with the charitable, non-profit status of Homes for Heroes as a housing provider,” reads the report.
On top of the capital funding element set to be debated next week, the project has already benefited from previous contributions from the City, including the waiving of the cash-in-lieu of parkland conveyance associated with new developments in the city. Additional fees waived by the City of Kingston include those associated with planning and land use approvals. The majority of funding for the Veterans’ Village has come from the provincial government, which has already contributed close to $2 million to the project.
The Homes for Heroes Veterans’ Village is expected to open by November 1, 2023.
The staff report will be presented to Council at a meeting on Tuesday, May 2, 2023, at 7 p.m. inside Council Chambers. The meeting will be open to the public and can also be streamed online through the Kingston City Council YouTube channel.