A cluster of tiny homes in Calgary’s Forest Lawn community will have their lights on this weekend, as 11 veterans are set to move into their new neighbourhood.
Canada’s first Homes for Heroes village provides affordable transitional housing for homeless veterans. The community has 15 tiny homes along with a resource centre, family suite, counsellor suite and community gardens.
According to the Homes for Heroes Foundation, which worked with ATCO to build the project, the tiny home option means more privacy, security and peer-to-peer support for veterans who live there compared to traditional homeless housing services.
It also lets them reintegrate into their community at a pace more comfortable for them.
The Mustard Seed is partnering with the ATCO village to provide on-site veterans services, supported by Veterans Affairs Canada, meaning residents will have access to mentoring, case management, counselling and links to other services and programs they may need or want.
Building permits were issued for the project in May, Homes for Heroes Foundation president and co-founder Dave Howard said, and just a few months later people are moving in, all thanks to the community stepping up to make it happen.
“They’re the ones that volunteered, they’re the ones that donated the money, so without them we have nothing. Canadians truly appreciate our veterans and we thank them,” Howard said.
Each home also honours a fallen soldier, which a plaque commemorating them outside the steps leading inside.
Howard said these tiny home communities will soon be popping up all across the country, with the next Homes For Heroes village set to open in Edmonton this time next year. The foundation is also working on buildings sites in B.C., Manitoba, Ontario and in the Maritimes.
He said villages like Calgary’s are the first step to ending homelessness among Canada’s veterans.
“I expect this to end the issue of veterans experiencing homelessness and I think we can do that within a 12 to 13 year period,” Howard said.
“This isn’t full-time housing, this is transitional space, so the veterans made that decision, they came to us and said: we wanted to get into a program, we want support, but at the same time, we want to move out and make room for the next.
“So we have the ability to end this issue, we just need to come together and today it’s proven that we have.”
The foundation said officials estimate 3,500 to 5,000 veterans experience homelessness in Canada after struggling to transition from their military careers to civilian life.
Move-in day for the Calgary Homes for Heroes village veterans is Nov. 1.