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Tiny homes and accessory dwelling units pitched to help solve Windsor’s housing crisis


The province recently hosted a housing summit talking about ways to increase housing supply to handle the growing affordability crisis.

But some people believe part of the solution to the supply issue already exists in the form of accessory dwelling units, or ADUs.

“Everybody thinks we need more houses, we need more houses for buyers to buy,” says Rhys Trenhaile, a real estate agent with Manor Realty. “We also have a rental crisis, you have both going on at the same time.”

A growing number of advocates believe the city should be exploring the idea of creating a better environment to construct ADUs.

“It uses existing infrastructure, our built environment in people’s back yards, so it’s making use of our resources more efficiently and it doesn’t have to be greenfield development,” says Sarah Cipkar, an ADU researcher and proud tiny homeowner.

Windsor’s current bylaws allow ADUs to be below grade or upper-level units, an addition on the home or a detached ADU — commonly referred to as a ‘tiny home.

There have been 180 permits issued for ADUs to date, according to data from the City of Windsor, but new research being done by Cipkar shows potential for so much more.

“There are 29,000 lots in Windsor alone eligible for detached ADU,” she says.

Cipkar’s research group has created a tool ( mapping out suitable residential lots for detached ADUs. Her research also indicates an additional 26,800 properties could be eligible for attached or internal units.

“Even if a fraction of that, one per cent of that total, is 290 units, if we were to add 290 units to the stock in the next five years, 10 years to the stock, would that not be a welcome thing? Of course,” says Ward 3 Coun. Rino Bortolin, pointing to the 6,000 people currently on a waiting list with the city for affordable housing.

But so far, Cipkar says less than 20 detached units have been constructed.

Real estate investors believe they know why.

“You have to create programs to create incentives to make it, in the illustrious words of the godfather, an offer that you can’t refuse,” says Trenhaile.

Coun. Bortolin says the province allows municipalities to use an incentive called tax incremental financing, and he thinks it’s something Windsor should look at.

“We could basically use the foregone revenue of the taxes to subsidize what is affordable housing,” Bortolin says. “If we took a portion of that tax and subsidized the rent we could actually achieve a lot of the affordability issues we’re talking about.” Top Stories

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