565 John St. North Affordable ADU

Location: Hamilton, ON

Client: Witt family, for IMBY

Year of Completion: 2024

Final Construction Cost: $150,000

Architect of Record: Invizij Architects

We were eager to partner with IMBY (In My Backyard), a new Hamilton-based charity aiming to fix the housing crisis one backyard at a time. “The goal is to create affordable housing options for those who are most vulnerable to becoming homeless,” said Siobhan Koch, co-founder of local non-profit In My Backyard (IMBY). This ADU in the North End neighbourhood of Hamilton is the first in hopefully many similar builds in the months and years ahead.

The building is one storey and 40m2, but has a separate bedroom, washroom, full kitchen, and plenty of outdoor space. Rents for IMBY are geared to income, with this particular unit costing $1,000/mo. The first tenant, a refugee from Sudan who has been living with family members, will live independently on their property, sharing outdoor space and an occasional meal, something the organization suggests.

The home cost about $150,000 to build, about half what it would typically cost thanks to volunteers and donated supplies, as well as discounted and at-cost materials. Bright with large windows, the home consists of an open-concept kitchen and sitting room, adjacent to the front door, which opens onto a sunny deck. At the back is a spacious bedroom painted a trendy dark grey of the tenant’s choosing with a storage loft. A narrow hallway separating the two has a small closet and laundry.

Though bound by a standard rental agreement, landlords and tenants are encouraged to develop a more personal relationship. Combatting loneliness and setting vulnerable people up for success is part of IMBY’s goal. Together, homeowner and tenant participate in a six-part training on community living, with an optional module for tenants on financial literacy, as part of the program.

Similarly, IMBY works with community agencies to identify clients who might be a good fit for the program. Those vulnerable to homelessness include newcomers, refugees, single parents and kids aging out of the foster-care system. “We really think that that idea of hospitality, mutuality, understanding the differences in one another create a really beautiful community,” Siobhan said. “Our hope is that people look at this as a new way of living.”

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