LONDON, ONT. -- Taking a page from the playbook of other cities, London city hall will consider installing modular housing units to help combat homelessness.

In a new report to Council, civic administration recommends installing 90 pre-fabricated units at two locations to serve as ‘transitional housing’ out of street-level homelessness.

“Other communities are seeing some great success,” explains Kevin Dickins, Acting Managing Director of Housing and Social Services at city hall. “They are four season units. So it is not like we are going to build something that can’t stand up to the harsh Canadian winters.”

According to the report, 1065 individuals were registered with city hall as being homeless over the 90 day period ending in June.

Transitional housing serves as a stepping stone between homelessness and permanent housing. It includes wraparound services that assist residents with addiction and mental health supports.

Dickins adds need for more transitional housing is urgently needed in London, “We are in a housing and homelessness crisis and every day we take only slows that down and puts us further behind.”

The plan being recommended to city council includes two phases.

  • Extend for 18 months the rental of 26 hotel rooms with social support staff. The $1.6 million cost would be covered with existing funds.
  • 150 transitional housing units constructed on three sites, including two modular designs.

Early this year, Coun. Shawn Lewis’s political push to install temporary conestoga huts was defeated by Council. He welcomes this new proposal.

“What staff have brought forward is better than the motion Councillor Van Holst and I proposed back at the beginning of the year. So I’m happy to see the need recognized.” says Lewis.

Dickins will not yet reveal the three locations being considered for the new transitional housing— only that staff are working with the city hall’s Housing Development Corporation.

Lewis believes the likelihood is low that neighbourhoods will push back against the modular housing developments because they will include on-site supports for residents.

“They would fit into a neighbourhood just fine. They wouldn’t look that much different than having a small apartment in your neighbourhood.” he adds.

The Community and Protective Services Committee will discuss the transitional housing plan on July 15 at city hall.