A design for a tiny home village for veterans experiencing homelessness in Calgary. Non-profit Homes for Heroes hopes to build a similar project in north Edmonton.

By Paige Parsons

Edmonton’s first village of tiny homes could be ready with a year to give military veterans experiencing homeless a place to rebuild their lives.

The Homes for Heroes Foundation secured a lease for a small wedge of vacant public land in Edmonton’s Evansdale neighbourhood this week. The proposed village would have roughly 20 tiny homes, as well as a community garden and park at 94A Street and 153 Avenue.

City council’s executive committee approved a lease rate of $1 dollar a year for 20 years.

The non-profit group is hoping to create a series of tiny home villages for veterans across Canada. Its first village is expected to open in Calgary this summer. Edmonton would be the second project to be completed, said Homes for Heroes co-founder Dave Howard.

In Edmonton’s 2016 homeless count, 70 people identified as veterans.

“The idea is to give them a stable environment to live, and to give them opportunities to work on oneself, the opportunity to grow and to reintegrate back into civilian life,” Howard said.

Homes for Heroes solicited feedback from veterans before designing the village and heard they want a program where they can access services and rehabilitate. They also learned affordable housing projects that retrofit apartment buildings aren’t a great option for many people who have spent years living on the street.

“That space is overwhelming. It’s actually too much space,” Howard said. Tenants can slip into hoarding tendencies and get into a cycle of shutting themselves away.

Tiny homes are smaller and offer privacy. The barracks format of the village offers a familiar, supportive environment, which will be complemented by on-site social service support through a partnership with the Mustard Seed. Each home will be named after a fallen Canadian military member.

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