Cahdco and SWCHC host a Rooming House & Micro-Suite Feasibility Workshop

Written by Hadiya Al-Idrissi

March 30, 2020

At the end of February, Cahdco and Somerset West Community Health Centre (SWCHC) hosted a workshop with various stakeholders from a wide range of backgrounds to discuss rooming house and micro-suite feasibility. Members from over 20 different organizations including government representatives, non-profit housing providers, support service workers, architects and other interested parties participated in the workshop and provided great insight on the topics discussed.

The premise of the workshop was to be a think-tank to further build on the findings in Cahdco’s initial feasibility study on developing a strategy to prevent the loss of rooming houses and create new housing stock using a non-profit model in the SWCHC catchment area. More information on rooming houses in Ottawa can be found in this previous blog post.

Participants of the workshop first had the opportunity to learn about the context of the study and the findings through presentations by SWCHC and Cahdco. The Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust then gave a presentation on their experience, lessons learned, and best practices on rooming house acquisition in Toronto. In the second half of the workshop, participants had the opportunity to break off into smaller groups for a more in-depth, collaborative exercise to provide feedback and ideas on one of five specific topics related to rooming houses.

Each group shared some interesting ideas generated from the discussion of their topic, as follows:

  • Support Services
    • Engage rooming house tenants in the stewardship/programming of services in their building to foster a sense of responsibility and prevent conflict, and seek smaller grants for this
  • Design Ideas
    • Supportive micro-suites are comparable to today’s condos; find synergies to rebrand them and start to erase the stigma of traditional rooming house models
  • Government Policy
    • Include rooming houses and micro-suites in Action Ottawa RFPs and Prioritize affordable housing applications in site plan control and building permit processes
  • Financing
    • Create an acquisition fund to allow quick purchases and act as a bridge for government funding
  • Acquisition
    • Set up a community land trust

The workshop closed with a “Where do you Stand” exercise which connected like-minded participants based on their support and enthusiasm for the different topics.

Do you have any creative solutions when it comes to improving rooming house acquisition and micro-suite development? Contact us if you want to get involved in furthering any of the topics above!

Hadiya Al-Idrissi

Development Project Coordinator

March 30, 2020