Project Tiny Hope: ‘More than just housing, it’s a new beginning’

city_scope_logo-cmykThe YWCA St.Thomas-Elgin has unveiled its case support for Project Tiny Hope, an affordable housing partnership with Doug Tarry Homes and Sanctuary Homes.
Under the heading, “Now more than ever, our community needs affordable housing,” comes the following statistic, “The waitlist for subsidized housing is over 1100 households translating to a 5-10 year wait.”
Their support paper goes on to stress, “The new YWCA affordable housing community is more than just housing, it’s a new beginning.”
The YWCA provides housing for youth, women and men with five independent apartment units and 42 congregate living units within St. Thomas.
Project Tiny Hope will nearly double that number.
“Safe and stable housing is the foundation of a healthy and vibrant community,” advises Lindsay Rice, YWCA executive director.
“Project Tiny Hope will revitalize 21 Kains Street in the downtown core of St. Thomas and create a thriving community where youth, adults and families live and grow for years to come.”

So why has the YWCA chosen to partner in Project Tiny Hope?
From their case support, “As a leader in housing-based case management, the YWCA has taken the lead role in the development and implementation of the St. Thomas-Elgin Youth Homelessness Protocol and is leading the way on a community development project focused on ending women and, woman-led family homelessness.

Project Tiny Hope street landscape“Over 80% of the youth and adults we serve move on to long-term affordable housing and improved life stabilization.
“We are proud to partner with Doug Tarry Homes and Sanctuary Homes who have been integral in launching Project Tiny Hope. With their generous financial contributions and industry leadership, our collaboration is robust and best prepared to launch this new innovative approach to affordable housing.”
So, what exactly will Project Tiny Hope achieve? The following is taken from their online material.
Improve Life Stability and Wellness: By providing wraparound supports and services, folks will have increased access to education, employment, income security, food security and preventative health services.
Strengthen Long-Term Mental and Primary Health: Our case managers utilize a trauma-informed approach that is judgement free and supports the whole person.
Lower the Number of Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Rapid rehousing is key to ending youth homelessness and by expanding our scope and reach we can provide supports and affordable housing to more youth.
Improve Food Security: With onsite gardens and a commercial teaching kitchen on-site the sky is the limit. Residents will have access to cooking classes, collective meal preparation, food budgeting and access to entrepreneurial food start-ups.
Be Built to Net Zero Ready Standard: Our tiny homes will be far more energy efficient, have significantly lower energy usage and be more affordable to operate. Our homes will be quieter, healthier and more comfortable.
Provide a Natural Outdoor Environment: A naturalized playground for children and families will be available to play and build friendships. An amenities pad and green space to gather will create opportunities to build community and intentional neighbour relationships.
Build Community and a Sense of Belonging: Our goal is to provide individuals with the stability of a home, and the wrap-around supports that will build resources and opportunities to grow and thrive.

What will the affordable housing look like?
“The creation of new YWCA rental units will be inclusive to diverse populations from all walks of life. A mix of one, two and three-bedroom rental units will accommodate adults, youth and families.
“Each tiny home will be equipped with a full kitchen, bathroom, laundry, private bedrooms and living room providing dignity and comfort.

“This welcoming Program House will provide an inviting spot for residents to gather, attend programs, socialize, and connect with other residents or visitors.”

“Our tiny homes will be built to net zero ready standard providing a far more energy efficient and less expensive home to operate. These homes are healthier, quieter and more comfortable.
“Doug Tarry Homes will be the lead builder for our housing expansion and with their knowledge and expertise, these homes will be both comfortable and beautiful.
“A YWCA Program House will be central to the property. The facility will be a shared experience with gathering spaces, meeting rooms and a collective learning kitchen accessible to all residents.
“This welcoming Program House will provide an inviting spot for residents to gather, attend programs, socialize, and connect with other residents or visitors.”
Plenty of information on Project Tiny Hope can be found here.


Still with Project Tiny Hope, exactly one year ago a request was made for $3 million from the city and the waiving of all developmental charges so the project could proceed this year.
To our recollection, that request was not dealt with by the previous council and it remains to be seen how this council – along with city staff – will address this.
In the meantime, here is how the matter was dealt with at the Dec. 13, 2021 council meeting as this corner reported.

City council this past Monday (Dec. 13, 2021) unanimously approved moving the request along to the treasury department, but several members responded what exactly does that mean and what is the next step?
City manager Wendell Graves handled that one.
“I think you remember earlier in the year when this group was before us to talk about their exciting project on Kains Street.
“And they gave us an overview on what that project meant. They, at that time, did not know what their financial ask might be for this.

“The recipe we have used in the past is to try and gain housing units by non-tax-based events and if there is going to be any contribution we have to look at that.”

“It really needs to come back to administration for a full analysis. We will sit down with the group and take a look at their financial analysis and come back with some recommendations.
“As you know there are a number of affordable and supportive housing projects in the mix . . . and what the opportunities are for each of the projects.”
Graves noted a full report will be presented to council shortly to outline “if the city can be involved in this project.”
He continued, “The recipe we have used in the past is to try and gain housing units by non-tax-based events and if there is going to be any contribution we have to look at that.”
To help finance the community and social services hub at 230 Talbot Street, the city sold off a portion of its existing housing stock, thus easing the financial burden on ratepayers.

Will this request be added to the agenda for the coming year?


The city’s ability to pay for critical infrastructure may be seriously impacted as a result of the province’s Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act.
Changes in the act relating to development charges may end up shifting the burden from developers to taxpayers or require the city to cut other municipal services. That’s the analysis of Bill 23’s impact on municipalities provided by Lou Pompilii, the city’s Director of Planning and Building Services, in a report to city council for this coming Monday’s (Dec. 19) meeting.
He cautions, the bill has the potential to significantly impact how municipal governments recover the costs associated with growth.
Delving further into Pompilii’s report, he notes Bill 23 and proposed amendments to the Ontario Wetland Evaluation system threaten to prioritize development over environmental and conservation concerns.
Pompilii adds the Catfish Creek and Kettle Creek conservation authorities will no longer be able to review and comment on development applications.
Both St. Thomas and Central Elgin rely on their comments to assist in their review of development applications.
Nothing like closing out the year with a meaty report from staff warning of the impacts of provincial legislation on the municipality and ultimately ratepayers.


A report to council from city clerk Maria Konefal breaking down the demographics of voters in the October municipal election generated plenty of suggestions Monday evening.
The voter turnout dropped to 30.6 per cent in the October municipal vote, down from 36.09 per cent in 2018.
It is not a situation unique to St. Thomas, it was played out in municipalities across the province and participation has been slipping in provincial and federal elections in recent years.
Coun. Steve Peters kicked off the discussion at Monday’s meeting with the observation older individuals – whom many feared would be averse to electronic voting – embraced the technology with the greatest percentage of voters being 65 years of age or older.
Meantime the younger generation – under the age of 25 – who literally live on their computers chose not to cast a ballot either on the internet or on their cell phone.
“How do we re-engage the public,” pondered Peters.
Coun. Gary Clarke stressed the need to find out why so many voters shunned the municipal election.
Suggestions were made to strike a committee to delve into possible reasons, although no motion was tabled to proceed in that direction.
Coun. Lori Baldwin-Sands had a creative solution in suggesting members of council make themselves available to engage with students in their civic classes to educate them and stress the importance of casting a ballot.
Coun. Steve Wookey suggested lowering the voting age to 16 but if they are not voting at 18 years of age, are they going to participate in the process at a younger age with so many distractions available to them?
Coun. Jeff Kohler noted he had heard from several people who said they wouldn’t vote because there were no paper ballots.
Well in London, they relied on paper ballots and the voter turnout in that city was in the range of 25 per cent. So the method of voting does not appear to be the issue at hand.
And finally, Konefal advised members that over 50 per cent of municipalities used electronic voting in the fall municipal vote.
We’ll go back to what we said last week. It’s not the system used for voting, it’s frustration with the political system itself at all levels of government.


In response to last week’s interview with Brian Elliot, the new executive director of the city’s emergency shelter, Dave Mathers forwarded this suggestion.

“Having had experience with The Inn during their twelve-year stay at our church, I have a suggestion.
“The old NYC (New York Central) roundhouse property across from The Joe (Joe Thornton Community Centre) and the police station would be an ideal location.
“Fence it in and allow those who wish to sleep in tents to set up outside the building. They could use the services in the building but still be outside.”


At this time two years we posted our Christmas greeting and closed it off with the following, “And the knowledge we may be nearing the end of this COVID-19 marathon.”
Well, not quite and the coronavirus – like the common cold – seems destined to be part of our lives going forward.
And this year, we have the scourge of respiratory syncytial virus or RSV to contend with over the holidays, playing the role of Grinch for many youngsters and their families this Christmas and further crunching our healthcare system.
But there is much to be thankful for because one year ago, COVID-19 restrictions were re-introduced in the province a week out from Christmas, so let’s dwell on the true meaning of the day, instead.


Photo courtesy Elgin County Archives

As has been the custom for some time now, we offer these last-minute – and most appropriate in what has been a quite unusual and divisive couple of years – gift suggestions to distribute in the appropriate fashion.
To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.
And, to all faithful City Scope readers, in particular, those with birthdays at this time of year – when your special day too often is lost in the hustle and bustle that is the lead-up to the day itself – may this Christmas bring you peace, health and happiness.
City Scope will not publish next week.

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And a reminder, I can be heard weekday afternoons as news anchor and reporter on 94.1 myFM in St. Thomas. As always, your comments and input are appreciated.


One thought on “Project Tiny Hope: ‘More than just housing, it’s a new beginning’

  1. Thank You for the Christmas Greetings. I look forward to your page each week and enjoy reading about the city in it. Thank You and Merry Christmas to all at Ian’s City Scope.


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