Six Nations moving forward with tiny homes project

SIX NATIONS—Following a successful pilot phase, the Six Nations of the Grand River Development Corporation (SNGRDC) is moving forward with an innovative tiny home project aimed at offering relief to the ongoing housing crisis affecting not just Six Nations, but communities across the country.

SNGRDC Public Relations rep Katie Montour shared some insight into the project, and how they are planning to implement it on a larger scale.

“In 2019, the Six Nations Community Plan was released, which is a document that outlines objectives, needs, and goals of the community in sectors such as the environment, education, wellbeing, and more,” said Montour.

One of the key issues identified was housing. The tiny home project is an attempt by SNGRDC to provide an innovative solution to this problem. 

“The entire province is in a housing crisis right now, but Six Nations is uniquely affected by this. There is a lack of land available to build new homes on the territory, lack of housing availability and affordability, poor quality housing, and more. It is our goal through this project to provide another option to Six Nations for safe, affordable, secure, and accessible housing,” said Montour.

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The recently run pilot phase gave SNGRDC valuable insight into community interest and the project’s feasibility moving forward.

  “We held an open house on August 16 and invited the community to come out and view the model homes. We had over 300 people attend the open house and over 100 people sign up for our mailing list to receive updates on the project,” explained Montour. “Now that we know there is a high level of interest in the homes, we will be contacting the people on the mailing list to determine the current level of readiness so we can outline our next steps.”

  Determining the logistical process and a construction timeline is reliant on the nature of the responses the team receives back after reaching out to those who joined the mailing list. Montour said one of the primary questions being is asked is whether those who expressed interest are looking to purchase a home as soon as possible or further in the future. The plan is to place the homes on the purchaser’s owned land.

Two models of tiny home are available: a one-bedroom model and a three-bedroom model. Pricing will vary based on the different features a buyer decides to add, with Montour noting, “A number of elements on the tiny homes are customizable, including siding, cabinets, countertops, fixtures, and hardware.”

Montour explained how the project will be supported through a community-wide effort: “The whole build will be done in partnership with several local contractors and suppliers. We have fostered many relationships that will allow us to build a solid commodity to service the needs of our community. When the client meets with the team, discussions will occur regarding construction, placement, and the clients’ responsibilities.”

  Discussing the project’s ultimate scalability, Montour said that it comes down to two things: sustained community interest and the capacity of SNGRDC’s construction team.

We asked Montour if she thought a similar tiny home project could work in communities outside of Six Nations, like Haldimand. 

She responded, “SNGRDC is in a unique position to offer this solution to the housing issues on Six Nations and to have community members design and build these homes for other community members. It would be wonderful if surrounding communities had the capacity to do the same as the housing crisis persists in our neighbouring municipalities as well.”

We asked Haldimand County if a similar tiny home project could be successful in our rural communities.

“Haldimand has not considered a proposal of this nature at this time,” replied Shannon Van Dalen, Manager of Planning and Development.

She shared some challenges a similar project might face in the County’s development framework, stating, “The location of such a proposal would impact the policy framework and potential support. For example, in the urban area there are services and that is where growth and development is to be focused and permitted; however, in the agricultural area there would be policy concerns because of the lack of services” and because various policies “do not permit residential development” on agricultural land.

  She noted the County’s work with the Haldimand-Norfolk Housing Corporation (HNHC) for a housing project in Dunnville. As reported in The Press last week, HNHC CEO Matt Bowen announced that project would be shovel ready by the end of 2024, bringing a mix of geared-to-income, affordable, and market value units.

In a request for comment on the Six Nations project, Bowen shared, “I would say the development of any new affordable housing in our communities is a great benefit!”

He offered some insight into Haldimand’s differing approach to affordable housing, adding, “Over the past few years, The Haldimand Norfolk Housing Corporation in collaboration with its board, Haldimand senior staff, and Council has proposed a regeneration strategy that focuses away from the development of single-space dwellings to building mixed-use, mixed-income, higher-density complete housing communities.”

  For those Six Nations community members interested in learning more about the Tiny Homes project, they can reach out by email at tinyhomes@sndevcorp.ca or by phone at 519-756-5608 ext. 9003.