With rent soaring in Barrie and affordable housing units so hard to come by, we need to look at creative means to increase the affordable housing stock. The City of Barrie has committed to create 840 new affordable units by 2024. Sometimes affordable housing projects get pushback in our community, with residents saying “Not in my backyard!” But Redwood has partnered with a growing number of homeowners who not only say “Yes, please, in my backyard” but “Actually, in my basement!” The results have been amazing.
The way Redwood’s Second Suites program works, homeowners approach us to create a legal second suite in their homes, or bring an existing unit up to code and registered. We work with Community Builders to provide this service. The homeowner then can choose to rent the unit themselves, or rent the unit to Redwood at an affordable rate. If the landlord rents to Redwood, then we do all the work of furnishing the unit, finding a tenant, collecting the rent, enforcing house rules, and providing support. The homeowner has extra income, and the tenant has a safe, hopeful, affordable place to live. Win-win! What we couldn’t have foreseen when this program launched in 2015 was the profound impact this arrangement would have on both homeowner and tenant. Some of our Second Suites landlords have become valued members of our family support team, building close friendships that last long after tenants have moved out. Some of our families have regular dinners with their upstairs neighbours, taking turns cooking and sharing baked goods. Their children grow up playing together.
One of our first Second Suites landlords was the Day family. Emily shared with us: “We have been renting out 2 basement suites in our home for almost 3 years. It has been such a positive experience for our family working with Redwood Park Communities. We enjoy having these lovely families in our home and have gained friendships that have continued beyond them staying with us. It is such a gift to be able to share space in our home – that would otherwise barely be used – to help people . I can honestly say that I have gained more than I have been able to give by renting to Redwood.”
When we open up our hearts and homes, incredible things happen! Second Suites landlords are attracted to the program for lots of reasons.
Dj Stansfield was initially looking for a way to “downsize without moving” – she wanted to stay in her home but have less costs and less space to maintain. Redwood Second Suites do create affordable housing units, but they have the side benefit of making housing more affordable for the homeowner, too. Dj’s experience has been so positive that she has since ended up joining the Second Suites team! Here she is promoting Second Suites at the Be Green Show in Barrie on Easter weekend.
Redwood Second Suites is just one way that we can increase affordable housing options in our city – but the thing that makes it unique is that it is something regular citizens can do, right now, no large capital campaign or millions of dollars needed. To learn more about if Redwood Second Suites is a good fit for you, visit our Second Suites page and take the questionnaire. Not interested in having a Second Suite in your home, but want to support these efforts in providing hope through housing? You can make a donation here!