Fredericton entrepreneur hopes tiny homes can help with homelessness

Click to play video: 'New Fredericton housing project closer to reality'
New Fredericton housing project closer to reality
A project that would see a community of 92 tiny homes constructed for unhoused Fredericton residents was approved by the city’s Planning Advisory Committee last week – and it’s already garnering a big buzz. Travis Fortnum reports – Sep 19, 2021

Software engineer Marcel LeBrun says he’s not retired, he’s rewired.

In the past few years, his focus has left the boardroom and turned to the community, taking a particular interest in the housing inequality we hear about all too often.

“There’s a growing number of people that can’t afford to live anymore,” LeBrun says.

“And a growing number of people are also living rough in our city. From 2015 to now, the list has more than doubled and housing stock has decreased.”

Deciding not to sit idly by, he’s come up with a plan to put a roof over some of those unhoused heads — 96 tiny roofs in fact.

Story continues below advertisement
Each tiny home is about 10 by 24 feet. Travis Fortnum / Global News

LeBrun’s not-for-profit 12 Neigbours Inc. plans to build a community of tiny homes on a 24-hectare plot of land on Fredericton’s north side.

A full-fledged neighbourhood, the community looks to have plenty of green and mixed-use space along with the near 100 homes.

Each 23-square-metre home has a full kitchen, three-piece bathroom, living space and loft storage.

Each tiny home has a full kitchen, three-piece bathroom and living space. Travis Fortnum / Global News

“They’re small but they’ve got absolutely everything you’d expect from a larger home,” says LeBrun.

Story continues below advertisement

Residents will even get to lend a hand in the development and exterior design of their home.

The project cleared its latest hurdle Wednesday when it was unanimously approved by the city’s Planning Advisory Committee.

Next up, LeBrun and co. will appear before city council Sept. 27 before having all their architectural plans and the finer details approved.

The community’s set to be hooked up to municipal water and electric, but LeBrun says he has his sights set on moving it to solar power down the road.

Down the tiny road from the tiny homes, the “Social Enterprise Centre,” which LeBrun says will provide residents with education and training opportunities, as well as have a café open to the residents and other Frederictonians.

“Housing first is a philosophy that says we have to put a roof over people’s heads first before you can deal with any other of the issues in your life and that’s true but a roof alone doesn’t do it,” says LeBrun.

“So I wanted to do more than that.”

He says each tiny home takes about two weeks to construct.

Story continues below advertisement

Pending all the required approval, LeBrun hopes folks can start to move in before the end of the year.

Sponsored content