An innovative do-it-yourself housing solution for Abbotsford's growing homelessness problem could find its way to the city's streets before winter.
The project – bringing dozens of small, portable, one-person shelters to the area's homeless – is the brainchild of an unlikely duo: Ward Draper, pastor of 5-and-2 ministries, and Jeff Gruban, spokesperson for the Fraser Valley Atheists, Skeptics and Humanists.
Draper recently found himself having coffee next to Gruban's group, which was meeting to discuss the issue of homelessness. They quickly sorted out their differences and committed to building a prototype shelter for around $200, which is currently being tested by a local man.
The shelter – two metres long by 0.9 metres wide by 1.2 metres tall – has an axle with two hard wheels on it and a castor on the front, along with handles, a locking door, a sliding window and some shelving. The structure also has a sealed corrugated plastic roof.
"These little shelters are more sealed than a tent and they're up off the ground so people can stay drier," says Gruban.
'Sometimes when you think outside the box you come up with an innovative solution that's a win.' - Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman
The immediate plan, says Gruban, is to raise funds to build 40 more units and distribute them across the city, with the ultimate aim of creating a permanent camp, such as Portland, Oregon's, Dignity Village, which houses 60 homeless for about $3,000 a month.
Abbotsford Mayor Bruce Banman likes the idea and says the project will be discussed with area stakeholders in the coming weeks.
"Sometimes when you think outside the box you come up with an innovative solution that's a win."