Frequently asked questions

General FAQ's


1. WHAT IS NEST NIAGARA?

NEST Niagara offers homeowners a tangible way to address the housing crisis. We partner with qualified homeowners to provide housing for those unable to access affordable housing by building a beautiful home in their backyard. We offer a compassionate support network, resources, and connections for both Host and Resident. Community donations fund homes.


2. HOW IS NEST NIAGARA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER PROJECTS ADDRESSING HOUSING AFFORDABILITY?

NEST Niagara is unique in that it empowers YOU to transform values into action - in this case, permanent supportive housing. Unlike other transitional solutions (i.e. tiny homes), NEST Homes are legal, fully equipped houses with a shower, bathroom, kitchenette, storage, and sleeping area. Moreover, these homes are built of quality materials at ¼ the cost of traditional affordable housing and take only months to develop instead of several years. Most importantly, Nest Niagara invites us to come closer, to know one another, and to become part of the world we wish to see.


3. HOW DO THE CITIES REGULATE THESE HOMES?

Homes are permitted through the Accessory Dwelling Unit bylaws.


4. ARE THERE INCENTIVES FOR HOMEOWNERS?

NEST Niagara allows homeowners to address the housing crisis through community engagement to prevent homelessness. NEST Niagara is designed to prevent, reduce, and eliminate any “burden” to the homeowner. NEST Niagara builds and maintains the homes and manages the residency of each resident.


5. WHAT IF A HOMEOWNER DECIDES TO MOVE?

Hosts are encouraged to consider the NEST Home a permanent fixture in their yards and lives. We understand that extenuating circumstances and major life changes can arise unexpectedly, and the lease accounts for such times. If a Host can no longer host a NEST Home, the NEST Home will be removed and placed in a new prospective Host’s backyard.


6. IS THE NEST HOME PERMANENT?

A NEST Home is considered permanent housing because there is no predetermined end date for the resident’s occupancy. Just as we would see with any neighbour, some NEST Residents may stay for years, while others will springboard to other opportunities.


7. HOW ARE RESIDENTS SELECTED AND SCREENED?

Prior to approval for NEST participation, potential Residents also engage in an interview with the NEST Community team so that staff can get to know each unique person and their circumstance and discuss collaboratively the expectations and realities of the NEST Residency, available support, as well as the realities of each neighbourhood dynamic and assess fit for each unique property.


8. WILL THE RESALE OF THE HOST HOME BE DIFFICULT/IMPOSSIBLE AFTER THIS NEST HOME IS BUILT?

NEST Homes are designed to be moved to another eligible yard. If a Host needs to sell, NEST Homes are removed, leaving an improved backyard with improved pathways and plantings. The area where the house once sat could easily be reutilized for another building, a patio, a garden, and more.


9. HOW IS SUCCESS MEASURED FOR THE RESIDENT LIVING IN THE NEST HOME?

NEST Niagara believes everyone should have the right to determine success and progress for themselves. We encourage and support NEST Residents to define what is meaningful and important to them, whether it be job training, dedicated time to work on their mental health, pursuing old hobbies, exploring new healthy habits, or just being able to have a chance to slow down and process. We at the NEST Niagara define our success through community participation for providing one more person with access to safe, secure housing that can be permanent or a stepping stone to something else.


10. WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE HOST AND THE RESIDENT?

Each Host-Resident relationship is unique. At a minimum, we ask that Hosts and Residents act as good neighbours to each other- respecting mutually developed agreements about space use, noise and interaction. We expect to see many of these relationships blossom into close friendships and are ready to support and facilitate when relationships hit the natural bumps that sometimes accompany sharing space. Given that both roles have their respective networks of support within The NEST Project, the Host-Resident relationship is but one spoke within a wheel of care and support.


11. WHO OWNS THE HOMES?

NEST Niagara retains ownership of the NEST Homes.


12. DO RESIDENTS PAY RENT?

Residents initially are not required to pay rent, so that they can invest in themselves for a period of time. When we begin to accept rent, residents will pay on a sliding scale based on income and length of residency. Rent paid will be used to advance the mission and goals of NEST Niagara.


13. HOW MUCH DO NEST HOMES COST?

The estimated hard costs of the home are $150,000, including permits, servicing, materials and labour for utilities. This price is well under half the cost of typical developments. Given these metrics, NEST Niagara is the region's most affordable permanent housing solution, uniquely sustainable and integrated throughout neighbourhoods.


14. HOW ARE NEST HOMES FUNDED?

A combination of community members, local businesses and corporations, and institutional funders funds the homes. Hosts are not required to contribute financially.

15. WHO PAYS FOR THE POWER? GARBAGE? OTHER UTILITIES?

NEST Niagara reimburses these expenses. Optional solar panels installed on the NEST Home offset electricity costs, and the Resident shares garbage, recycling, and compost pick-up with the Host’s existing services.


16. DO PROPERTY TAXES INCREASE WHEN YOU BUILD A BACKYARD NEST HOME? WHO PAYS FOR THAT?

Unlike ordinary construction built to stay in one place, NEST Homes are moveable personal property owned by The NEST Project. Because NEST Homes are not real property attached to the land, and because the homeowner does not own them, the homeowner’s property taxes are not expected to be impacted.

Host FAQ's


1. HOW DO I BECOME A NEST HOST?

Hosts are the backbone of what we do at NEST Niagara and are a vibrant, diverse group of individuals who come full-heartedly to this work and community. We are thrilled that you may be interested in Hosting and look forward to the opportunity to learn and grow together. Please review the following criteria, and contact us with any questions.

2. NEST HOST ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA:

1) I own a single-family home


3) I will participate in legal processes and adhere to the agreement signed between me and NEST Niagara


5) I am comfortable with trades coming on site during construction.

6) I will allow the NEST Home to connect to my primary residence’s water, sewer, internet and electricity, or as the municipality requires.


9) I will act as a good neighbour to my NEST Resident, including being friendly and willing to share the use of the backyard. If a conflict should arise, I will work with NEST Niagara to resolve this issue with good faith efforts to ensure continued stable housing for my NEST Resident.


3. WHAT DOES BEING A NEST HOST ENTAIL?

In addition to the criteria listed above, NEST Hosts:


1) Meet with NEST Project team members and partners.

2) Review and sign a ground lease agreement.

3) Attend a construction kick-off meeting, Landscaping kick-off, and follow-up meetings.

4) Be present or make keys accessible during Build Days to use electricity and make utility connections. 

5) Expect a construction project in your backyard, with professionals and community volunteers visiting your property.

6) Commit to being good neighbours to the resident as defined by you and the resident, and exercise compassion through their settling-in.

7) Set clear norms in collaboration with the Resident and with support from NEST Niagara.

8) Proactively communicate concerns regarding the building or resident with the NEST Community Programs Manager.


4. DO PROPERTY TAXES INCREASE WHEN YOU BUILD A BACKYARD NEST HOME? WHO PAYS FOR THAT?

Unlike ordinary construction built to stay in one place, NEST Homes are moveable personal property owned by NEST Niagara. Because NEST Homes are not real property attached to the land, and because the homeowner does not own them, the homeowner’s property taxes may not impacted.

5. WHAT IS A HOST’S RELATIONSHIP TO THE RESIDENT?

Hosts and residents are encouraged to define and shape their relationships, with the primary expectation being that each is a good neighbour to the other. We match hosts and residents by several criteria, including their desired level of involvement in each other’s lives. Some hosts and residents are very involved in each other’s lives, regularly having dinner together and attending social events, while others happily share space but connect less frequently. Since NEST Niagara manages the resident's residency, the host and resident are free to enjoy a neighbourly relationship.



6. IS THE NEST HOME PERMANENT?

Yes, NEST Niagara provides permanent housing, meaning we do not impose a predetermined move-out date for NEST Residents. NEST Hosts sign a Ground Lease agreement in 5 year increments.



8. WHAT HAPPENS IF I BECOME A HOST, AND I HAVE TO MOVE?

Hosts are encouraged to consider the NEST Home a permanent fixture in their yard and lives. We know that extenuating circumstances and major life changes can arise unexpectedly, and the ground lease accounts for such times.



9. HOW IS A NEST HOME BUILT? HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE?

NEST Homes are built by a combination of skilled professionals and supervised volunteers. The homes are prefabricated at our NEST Shop and taken to the site. The total amount of time under construction however will typically last around 4 months, but can take longer, depending on the timing and complexity of the site and landscaping.

10. HOW IS ONGOING MAINTENANCE HANDLED?

For emergency and ongoing maintenance of NEST Homes, we partner with well-established local businesses that connect homeowners in the Niagara area with experienced contractors.



11. WILL THE NEST HOME BE CONNECTED TO MY UTILITIES?

Yes and no. Depending on the municipality, the NEST Resident may share electrical, internet, water, sewer, garbage, recycling, and compost pick-up with the Host, and Nest Niagara will cover theses costs.


12. DO TAXES INCREASE WHEN YOU BUILD A BACKYARD NEST HOME? WHO PAYS FOR THAT?

Unlike ordinary construction built to stay in one place, NEST Homes are moveable personal property owned by NEST Niagara. Because NEST Homes are not real property attached to the land, and because the homeowner does not own them, the homeowner’s property taxes are not expected to be impacted.

Volunteer FAQ's


1. WHAT OPPORTUNITIES EXIST TO VOLUNTEER WITH THE NEST PROJECT?

There are various ways in which community members can engage with NEST Niagara, including participating in landscaping or becoming a Companion to a NEST Resident.

Join in welcoming new residents to their Nest Home by procuring items for a Welcome Home Kit. A Kit typically includes towels, bedding, kitchenware, and cleaning supplies. This is a beautiful way to ensure that a resident has all of the essentials as they move into their new home. For more information contact us.


2. HOW DO I GET INVOLVED IN THE COMPANIONSHIP PROGRAM?

Companionship operates from the core belief that healing does not happen in isolation but in relationships and in the community. Companionship supports self-determination and acknowledges, honours, and affirms the inherent worth of each human being through supportive relationships grounded in mutuality. Companionship does not seek to “fix” or “save” anyone, but rather honours and respects someone exactly where they are at. The Companionship Program is one part of the support network within NEST Niagara that we hope to cultivate, nourish, and grow. This is a volunteer program that brings together members from our housed community and members of our NEST Home community who want to connect and build relationships with one another. If you are interested in participating in this program, you would be connected with a companion volunteer to meet up on a regular basis (either by phone, video chat, or in person).