WINDSOR, ONT. -- Family Services Windsor Essex has been shortlisted for funding to track and analyze the construction of additional dwelling units (ADUs), often referred to as “tiny homes”, as a way to create more affordable housing in the city, and ultimately, across Canada.

Liberal Windsor-Tecumseh MP Irek Kusmierczyk made the announcement Tuesday, as part of the federal government’s Housing Supply Challenge, where stakeholders proposed solutions to remove or reduce barriers that hinder housing supply.

“It is more urgent than ever that the government take action to make housing more affordable,” says Kusmierczyk.

Family Services was shortlisted for round one of the challenge and will receive $200,000 to create a tracking tool that could influence local investments but also inform policy-makers about the best neighbourhoods in which to consider ADU construction.

“Our research is groundbreaking, it’s cutting edge and we are going to contribute in a very positive way to get Canadians and the industry to think about housing in a different way,” says Family Service Windsor Essex Executive Director, Joyce Zuk, adding the work can “demonstrate very clearly that we can get more housing built in this country that’s affordable, that’s safe and we can build it fast.”

Sarah Cipkar, one of the lead researchers in this new project, says there’s currently very little data around how many ADUs exist in the city or county. There’s also very little research on the subject, a barrier for anyone contemplating the investment, Cipkar says.

“The idea came forward to create a tracking and analysis mechanism so we could better understand where these units being developed, where could they be developed and what type of government incentives could be possible to create more of these units,” Cipkar says.

The research will make use of GIS mapping tools to layer information such as neighbourhood demographics, socio-economic data and neighbourhood needs to inform future decisions about where to invest in tiny homes.

The City of Windsor introduced a new bylaw in 2019 allowing the construction of ADU’s, shortly after provincial legislation of the same nature was passed in 2018.

According to statistics from the City of Windsor’s building department, 17 permits were pulled in 2019, another 88 in 2020 and 24 have been pulled so far in 2021, for the construction of ADUs.

Once concluded, the project will be submitted to the Canadian Housing and Mortgage Corporation for review in September, 2021. Of the 21 submissions short-listed, six will be selected for a third round of funding that would implement the research and tools on a national scale.

Kusmierczyk says this data will help governments and policy makers better understand how additional dwelling units can contribute to creating more affordable housing.

“It’s a made in Windsor solution, a made in Windsor partnership, but hopefully we’ll be able to scale across the country from coast to coast,” Kusmierczyk says.