There is no single way to design and develop alternative housing. Much
depends upon the community for which the housing is being built and
the funding resources available. In Toronto, housing providers have a vast
wealth of experience and knowledge in the development and design of
alternative housing.


This User Guide builds on that knowledge. The
guide was commissioned by the City of Toronto
through funding from the Supporting Communities
Partnership Initiative and provides a blueprint for
those who are interested in developing alternative
housing communities. It provides a summary of nine
housing communities which were built in Toronto
over the last 20 years. Each housing community was
carefully selected to ensure that they represented
the widest range of housing types, serving a full
spectrum of tenants. In addition, they represent
a diversity of management styles both in their
development and current operations. The tenants,
housing staff, development consultants and architects were interviewed. They identified design
principles that not only affect tenant satisfaction,
but can affect the management of the facility.
In addition to tenant and staff interviews, community
consultations were held with the City of Toronto’s
Alternative Housing Services Committee (AHS),
and with the Women’s Housing Advocacy Group
This User Guide is a synthesis of the lessons learned,
areas of concern that need to be considered during
development and specific recommendations for
site selection, materials, and the design of units.
The term “Alternative Housing” in this User Guide
refers to housing that is built specifically for tenants
who may require support to maintain their housing.
We also recommend that you refer to the Canada
Mortgage and Housing Corporation web site
for housing industry professionals and community
groups. This site provides the latest research
in housing technology, development and design.