Noah built the ark on time, but then again he didn’t need a Toronto building permit.
So said Marco Guzman last week, smiling as workers installed windows and plumbing into a new four-storey apartment on Danforth Avenue just east of Victoria Park Avenue.
When it opens in January, the 3087 Danforth Ave. building will include a storefront and 20 units of affordable housing for status and non-status First Nations.
“It took a long time,” said Guzman, president of the non-profit New Frontiers Aboriginal Residential Corporation (NFARC).
“Nevertheless, here we are, moving at a snail or a turtle’s pace.”
Selected for a provincial grant by the Miziwe Biik Development Corporation, the $5 million building, called Amik II, comes more than a decade after the original Project Amik building opened at 419 Coxwell Ave. Open to people of all backgrounds, Project Amik has rents geared to income, and about half the tenants are Aboriginal.
In Cliffcrest, Guzman said workers are also now installing the foundation for Amik III, another four-storey building with 19 residential units.
Like the homes at Amik II, those apartments will be open to First Nations with low and moderate incomes, and rented at 20 per cent below the area average.
Both are being constructed by FusionCorp and Triumph Developments, the contractor and developer building the 12-storey Carmelina condo at Danforth and Woodbine Avenues.
Guzman said NFARC was lucky to get Amik II’s location on Danforth Avenue.
“This had so many pros,” he said, noting that it’s a short walk to the subway and grocery stores, plus the AccessPoint health centre is just across the street.
The project also got a warm welcome from the local Crossroads of the Danforth BIA, said Guzman, noting that they liked the orange and yellow highlights on the new brick building, and had many suggestions for its ground-floor retail space.
But even with two new projects underway, Guzman said Toronto is nowhere near meeting the demand for affordable First Nations housing.
“This is peanuts,” he said.
Statistics are hard to come by, he added, but the demand is measured not in a few dozen homes, but tens of thousands.