Published by on May 25, 2021

Two new apartment buildings, their exteriors finished in a bold two-tone colour scheme, are brightening up an otherwise unremarkable block in Orillia’s south end.

Constructed from shipping containers, this recently minted development along Elgin Street is doing more than adding a visual lift to the area, however.

Bolstered by provincial money, the unique project is providing what the province says is safe and affordable housing for Indigenous people who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.

Among the inaugural group of tenants is Katlyn Caruthers.

“It’s very spacious, it’s open, it’s homey,” the 33-year-old told “I’m so grateful.”

Caruthers had been living in her car with her seven-year-old son for three months prior to securing an apartment here, after being left homeless following a house fire.

The monthly rent for her one-bedroom unit is approximately $400 — a relative bargain at a time when many are struggling to find affordable accommodations.

“If you look at the rental market in Orillia right now, it’s like $1,400 for one bedroom,” said Caruthers, noting the development has a mix of Indigenous and non-Indigenous tenants. “The homeless crisis in Orillia right now is exponential — it’s not only the First Nations that are hurting, it’s everybody.”

The project, a partnership involving Ontario Aboriginal Housing Services and the Métis Nation of Ontario, features 27 units spread over two three-storey buildings.

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