Non-profit developer defends affordable housing project opposed by NIMBY residents: Regional staff say Peel is only meeting 3% of need 
(Tom Rumble/Unsplash)

Non-profit developer defends affordable housing project opposed by NIMBY residents: Regional staff say Peel is only meeting 3% of need 

The Region of Peel has conceded over recent years that it cannot meet the housing needs in the community, and has repeatedly called on the public and private sector for help to address the affordability crisis. A local non-profit organization trying to do just that is being targeted by residents opposed to supportive, affordable housing in their backyard.  

A proposed development at 1639 Lakeshore Road in Mississauga has stirred controversy among nearby residents who fear it “presents a significant risk to the protection, and safety of [the] community in general, and the most vulnerable sectors of the community,” referencing children, seniors and women in supportive housing, who reside nearby the property. 

In a January 30 letter to the Region, on behalf of the “Coalition of Concerned Citizens,” residents pointed to a “real and substantial threat posed by the development”. The coalition’s concerns, which one local housing advocacy group has referred to as a “30-page diatribe”, have come forward as the Region continues to scramble amid a growing housing affordability crisis. 

The development, marked as the Clarkson Standard Support Project, is part of a larger mandate by Indwell Community Homes — a non-profit charity that creates and provides supportive housing — to bring more critically needed units to Peel. 

More than four-dozen apartments are slated for construction and Indwell’s housing is diverse, its CEO Jeffrey Neven explained at a regional council meeting just over a week after the residents’ letter was received. The demographic makeup of the organization’s standard support program will likely have a nearly equal split between men and women, with approximately five percent of tenants identifying “as gender non-conforming, transgender, two-spirited or gender diverse.” He added the organization anticipates that, similar to its other standard support communities, the majority of tenants will be seniors over the age of 55 and families with children.

“There’s a myth out there that people want to stay in a tent and it's been my experience that I’ve never encountered that,” Neven explained. “What I’ve encountered is that when people are offered a quality place to live that meets their needs, it might take some time to trust, because people have been harmed, they’ve dealt with trauma, but we shouldn’t be dissuaded by a little bit of time it takes to build that trust.”

During the same February 8 council meeting, the Region’s commissioner of human services, Sean Baird, confirmed that Peel continues “to see extraordinary need for supportive housing,” with the estimated number of people living in core housing — a classification used to identify families or individuals living in homes that are considered inadequate or unaffordable — beyond 90,000. The total cost of meeting that need is $50 billion, an amount “well outside the capacity of the Region of Peel,” Baird previously told councillors in July. 

He also revealed that with the affordable housing crisis and the gap between available resources, the Region is currently only meeting three percent of that need. 

“We’re estimating that 40 percent of that 90,000 requires some level of supports in our community and that we’re currently meeting… three percent of that need, maybe 140 [to]150 available supportive units, when the reality is we need closer to four to five thousand of those types of supportive units,” Baird told councillors during the meeting.

The January 30 letter from residents claimed that while the coalition “understands and accepts… there is an acute shortage of ‘affordable housing’ in the City of Mississauga that must be addressed, which includes the development of affordable support housing,” in typical NIMBY fashion, it added that the “opposition to the development at 1639 Lakeshore Road West is not to be misconstrued as an objection to the development of affordable support housing in the community for the benefit of those vulnerable members of the community in need of support, including the development of affordable support housing at 1639 Lakeshore Road West,” but repeated that it is not wanted at this particular location. 

Frustrated by the absence of public consultation with “the community that will be directly, and we believe adversely, affected by the development,” prior to the project’s location being approved (the land use fits the zoning requirements and therefore requires no public consultation), the coalition is seeking “an immediate suspension of any further steps being taken in connection with the development at 1639 Lakeshore Road West until a meaningful consultative process has been facilitated to provide the community with an opportunity to be heard, and with the benefit of such consultation, taking steps to identify and ameliorate the risks which the development will pose to the protection and safety of the community.”

“The Coalition’s objection concerns the stated intention to offer affordable support housing to persons with a history of drug addiction, alcohol abuse and serious mental illness,” the letter states, which it argues will ultimately “materially enhance the risk to the protection and safety of other members of the community.”

The project, according to staff, will create 50 new affordable apartments for “some of Mississauga’s most vulnerable who face housing insecurity due to various barriers to stable, independent living, and those who live with mental health, addiction, and/or physical and mental disabilities” — something that’s desperately needed as the Region, through its own housing department, continues to fall further behind the rapidly growing demand. 

“We’ve seen a meteoric rise in our homeless encampments, we know that that’s a place where often folks that experience these challenges are,” Baird explained. “So to suggest that providing permanent housing increases that is perhaps an odd way of looking at it because the reality is the folks are here, they’re in the community all around us today.”


The federal government announced over $23.8 million in funding to support the construction of more affordable housing units in Peel through Indwell.



The project is a by-product of funding announced in November from the federal government, alongside the Region, to support the construction of 118 homes in Peel. Over $23.8 million in funding was earmarked for Peel through the National Housing Co-Investment Fund and the third round of the Rapid Housing Initiative, while the Region of Peel provided $21 million to get supportive housing off the ground.

“The delivery of supportive housing is complex and stigma about mental illness still exists,” Neven told councillors during the February 8 meeting in response to residents’ concerns. Contrary to the Coalition’s claims that the Clarkson project will pose a danger to the community, Neven emphasized this particular project is geared to individuals living in poverty due to a permanent disability, adding Indwell’s standard support program is for people who are “stable” and “well on their journey.”

“Often this could either be mental health-related, disability or of physical or other health conditions,” he explained. “In our sector, we use the term ‘acuity’ to describe the intersection of the severity of mental health, substance use disorders, chronic disease illness, connections to personal and professional supports or any other complexities that impact an individual’s wellness and housing needs.” 

“This building is intended for people who have low acuity, and who want the benefits of access to some on-site staff support.” 

However, he cautioned, while there are benefits from the standard support program, Mississauga’s Clarkson neighbourhood is one of the hot spots for encampments in Peel Region “and this program doesn’t solve that, it doesn’t help that situation.”

“I come to you today and I regret that this program won’t actually meet the needs of those with the highest acuity and we have much [more] work to do. We’re not able to address the safety concerns of those that are most vulnerable in our neighbourhood,” he told councillors. 


A growing number of encampments have been popping up across Peel as its affordable housing crisis worsens and emergency shelter systems exhaust capacity to take people in.

(The Pointer files) 


The Clarkson development is in addition to Indwell’s first project in Mississauga at 425 Lakeshore Road — also known as “Lakeshore Lofts” — which opened in 2022. Another project at 25 Thomas Street in Mississauga’s Streetsville neighbourhood, which will have 40 units and is currently under construction, is expected to open this year. 

In response to residents’ concerns, More Homes Mississauga said it was “disturbed” by the submission from the coalition of residents for raising “a number of discriminatory and untrue claims,” in its letter to the Region, “in an effort to prevent or stall the development of badly needed housing in the City of Mississauga.” 

The housing advocacy group states the coalition “clearly demonstrated flagrant unconcern for this at-risk shelter, which is kept nondescript specifically for the purpose of protecting its vulnerable residents, when they chose to submit public documents revealing its full name and location, adding that “Egregiously, they claim that opposing 1639 Lakeshore Road West is, in part, out of concern for these at-risk shelter residents, effectively dragging them in as pawns in their fight to prevent other housing support in Mississauga.”

“Above all, MHM is disturbed to see a rising trend in the discourse about housing development of all types in Mississauga where conjecture, open discrimination, and bad-faith arguments are being used to push back against housing solutions in the midst of a housing crisis.”

Two people have died outside shelters in Peel in recent months, waiting to find a space inside as temperatures dropped.

While the Region has touted its policy to never turn anyone away when seeking shelter in its emergency support systems, that promise was broken last July when Baird told councillors the Region turned away just over 300 people after reaching capacity inside Peel’s overflow hotels which are used when shelters reach capacity. Staff revealed in October there were approximately 128 known encampments identified, where small numbers of people were sheltering, a 167 percent increase over 2022. No updated data has been provided by the Region.

As of December 2022, the number of households on Peel’s centralized wait list for a subsidized unit was 28,811, nearly double the amount from the 14,997 households on the waitlist reported in 2019. A spokesperson from the Region previously said the figure “may be under-reported” because of the backlog Peel Region’s Housing Services experienced in 2022. Updated figures have not been provided.  

“[W]e’re not anywhere close to meeting the need and even in the pipeline, we don’t have enough projects to come close to meeting the need,” Mississauga Councillor Alvin Tedjo, who represents the Clarkson community, said in response to the February 8 presentation.  

In an effort to address the growing crisis, Mississauga Councillor Joe Horneck put forward a motion to have the Region study the use of modular housing that could be purchased, assembled and serviced within a few months as a temporary solution to the affordability crisis. But a staff report presented to council in October recommended, based on the results of the feasibility analysis, that council not proceed with cabin-style, temporary modular housing in Peel, and instead explore higher quality, temporary modular units that are non-cabin style, connected to the Region’s water and wastewater system, as a way to expand the number of emergency shelter beds. This, the report explained, would begin with units at the Surveyor Family Shelter site for families and units at the Cawthra Road shelter site for individuals — both located in Mississauga — “should funding become available.”


The Region previously examined using modular housing as a temporary solution to tackle the housing crisis.

(Alexis Wright/The Pointer) 


Previous reporting by The Pointer pointed out that on average, Peel’s shelters provide temporary relief to approximately 3,600 families, adults and youth experiencing homelessness annually. According to Regional data, approximately 17,700 households live in the affordable housing system in Peel and an additional 11,500 receive emergency shelter, financial assistance and other supports. But the gap between current service levels and the need is continuing to increase. 

After previous strategies failed due to a lack of funding at the regional level, councillors moved to a new affordable housing plan.

It represents a dramatic reduction in affordable housing units that will be built compared to its ambitious Home For All plan that went belly up after regional councillors failed to approve the money needed to fund their own plan. Staff recommended replacing the existing Housing Master Plan — which aimed to build 5,700 affordable units by 2034, including 5,364 rental units, 226 supportive housing units and 60 emergency units over 15 years after the initial plan was scaled back in 2019 — with the Peel Community Housing Development Program that would include a target of 12 projects or 1,444 new units/beds over 10-years, representing a fraction of the original, approved strategy. 

As part of the staff recommendation, the Region will be entering into a revised agreement with CMHC to create 1,444 units, which is still short 562 units from the commitment of 2,280 units. July’s report noted the new plan will “not reduce the gap between need and available resources,” reminding councillors that “an annual tax increase of six percent is required over the next 10-years to simply maintain the level of need that is currently being met.”

In response to the coalition’s concerns over the non-profit supportive housing project, Baird said the best way to provide safety and security for the community is to create the necessary permanent housing for the people who already need support.

“This is only one project,” he acknowledged. “If you think about the extent of the need that I talked about before, the reality is we will likely be back before you with projects like this in every one of our neighbourhoods, because it's that level of volume and commitment that’s required to address supportive housing.”

Neven called on elected officials and community members to take a broader, progressive view on solutions that will benefit everyone in the long run.

“People’s mental health stabilizes the moment they have permanent, quality, affordable housing that meets their needs. The challenge with substance use decreases,” he explained, appealing to stakeholders in the council chamber. “The only pathway forward is with supportive housing, and each person’s pathway is different and it looks different for each individual.”



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Twitter: @mcpaigepeacock

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