Marcel LeBrun watches as the final of the first 12 tiny homes in his affordable housing community rolls on to the property.
It’s a major milestone for the 12 Neighbours Community Inc, of which LeBrun is the founder. Each section of the development will have 12 plots, making this the first completed plot.
“We now have our 12 neighbours,” he said in an interview Wednesday.
His not-for-profit plans to build a community of tiny homes on a 24-hectare plot of land on Fredericton’s north side. It will feature a total of 96 tiny houses. Each 23-square-metre home has a full kitchen, three-piece bathroom, living space and loft storage.
A full-fledged neighbourhood, the community will have plenty of green and mixed-use space. It will also have a social enterprise centre with a cafe.
The organization worked with the Fredericton City Council to get approvals for the lot and the building permits. It is partially subsidized by the Fredericton co-ordinated access system, which is managed by Social Development and other housing agencies and non-profits in the city.
Renters will not have to pay more than 30 per cent of their total household income in rent.
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‘A whole lot more than a house’
The project not only aims to provide housing for people but it will also act as a place people can develop skills, gain employment, and have access to many resources to help them keep moving forward.
“I think a home is a whole lot more than a house. It has to do with community, safety, relationships, It’s a relational concept not just a physical concept,” LeBrun said.
He said seeing the first block completed means the project is coming full circle.
“The community members are amazing and welcoming to each other,” he said. “We’re excited about the community energy that we have and the whole colourful feel that we have.”
Just months ago, there were only a few houses. The next step, outside of the additional homes, is the community garden.
“Sustainability is really key,” LeBrun said.
Each home even has 3 kilowatts of solar power to provide clean energy to the homes, with the project aiming to be net-zero.
Allan Smith got set up in his tiny home with his partner Chanda Woodworth back in February. At the time, they were excited to finally have a permanent place to stay. Now, Smith, who people call Al for short, is the unofficial mayor of the first block of the community, always having a smile and time for a conversation.
“I’m really happy here,” he said on Wednesday. “It’s the best place I’ve ever lived in my whole life and I just turned 59 last month so that says a lot.”
Smith said being able to find permanent housing like this has opened his life up, even allowing him to work.
“I know all of them (the neighbours),” he said. “I’m going to make it habit to get to know them.”
For Smith, though, this place means home.
“It’s great, it’s excelling. It’s a good place to live.”