Changing perceptions: Niagara tiny homes builder believes his approach is part of the solution to the housing crisis

A Unique Housing Opportunity presents itself in the Niagara region as a small homebuilder approach to address the housing crisis.

Aloft Housing Inc., a company founded by former Habitat for Humanity Chief Operations Officer Keith Gowan and other former Habitat members, aims to take small house living to new heights.

Taking advantage of overparking structures, Aloft will build small houses on stilts to maximize urban coverage and provide housing in urban cores and environments without impacting parking.

According to the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. approximately 3.5 million homes will be needed over the next ten years to meet housing demand in cities across Canada.

Modular design allows Aloft to build multiple units to connect with each other to form residential units with living space from 200 to 300 square meters with all the amenities a person needs.

With a price tag of just under $175,000, the units come fully furnished and offer a large living space, utilizing every square inch of the interior for maximum comfort.

The proof of concept was completed three weeks ago and now there is a lot of consultation with municipalities, developers and landowners to take this seriously because of the lack of affordable housing, said Gowan, president of Aloft Housing Inc.

“Our board is full of a lot of tours and a lot of discussions and a lot of follow-up,” he said.

“Some of those follow-ups are starting to click and we’re seeing some sales happen, and we’ll probably start construction in the fourth quarter and then ramp up into 2023.”

Gowan looks at the housing crisis from an affordability perspective and believes that ideas about what housing looks like need to change quickly to mitigate the effects of the lack of housing holding people hostage when it comes to costs and options.

“We need housing, it’s at a crisis level and that’s where we seem to fit a small part of a solution,” he said.

“Municipalities and people will have to change their perception of how we live in a very short space of time, because of the pent-up demand and the wave that is common and hitting the streets.”

Gowan notes that there is interest from municipalities and housing associations who want to see models in action to offer solutions for their housing needs.

“They’re bringing in city staff to explore how we can make this happen and we can use this as a springboard or as an example for use in other municipalities,” he said.

“They’re really excited about it and they keep calling us and keep coming back, so that’s always a good sign.”

Gowan said they are not targeting any particular demographic, but individuals seeking affordable housing and wanting a smaller footprint.

“We don’t have a specific person or end user, because of its flexibility, it’s so adaptable to different ways,” he said.

The only problem Gowan sees with the design is that it isn’t fully accessible for those with mobility issues as the units are mainly upstairs, but that doesn’t stop them from brainstorming solutions.

“Because of the design we have, they are able-bodied, meaning there are no accessible housing units,” he said.

“We’re trying to figure that out, but because of the breadth requirements we have, it’s difficult, so I’d probably say the demographics are wide, if they don’t have accessibility issues, we’re currently trying to create some solutions for that.”

Aloft Housing will be attending the Ancaster Tiny Home show at the Ancaster Fairground from August 4-7, where people can view their designs.

For more information about Aloft, visit https://aloftthousing.com/

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