Fifteen tiny houses lined up like military barracks are set to open Friday as a living complex for homeless veterans, the first of its kind in Canada, according to CNN news partner CBC.
The village in Calgary will provide homeless veterans – who served as long ago as the Korean War and as recently as Afghanistan – with compact houses, individualized counseling and resources for other services as part of a project led by the Homes for Heroes Foundation. The foundation is working in collaboration with Mustard Seed, which provides services to people experiencing poverty and homelessness, and the Canadian company ATCO, CBC said.
The 275-square-foot homes come fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom and sleeping area. Fifteen of those compact houses sit on three residential lots, CBC reported. The units in Calgary are the first to be built, but the Homes for Heroes Foundation says that the goal of the operation is to build communities for homeless veterans all over Canada.
The foundation is in the early stages of building a similar village in Edmonton, according to CBC.
Each village costs between $3.5 million and $5 million to build, David Howard, president and co-founder of the Homes for Heroes Foundation, told the news outlet.
More than 25,000 people across 61 communities were experiencing homelessness in Canada last year, with 4.4% identifying as veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces and 0.3% as veterans of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to Everyone Counts, Canada’s point-in-time count of homelessness.
Don Mcleod, a retired military police officer who works with Mustard Seed to help counsel and support veterans, told CBC that veterans often find the transition from the structure of military life to the civilian world difficult – and that trauma and reluctance to seek out help can compound into serious problems like addiction and homelessness.
“A lot of (the veterans) are living on the street so the first thing we can do is give them a supportive housing environment to live in,” Mcleod told CBC. “From there we are going to work toward independent living on their own one day.”
But, he told the station, there is difficulty in getting veterans in the door to utilize the program.
“They don’t feel that they are deserving of anything and the position they are in right now is their own fault and there’s nothing that can be done for them,” he said.
Howard told the outlet it is actually the community that hasn’t done enough. He said his grandfather struggled with PTSD after serving in World War II.
“What I saw was somebody who served our country, he came back broken and we weren’t there to help,” Howard told CBC.