Edmonton

'It takes a village': Tiny homes will help house vulnerable veterans

ATCO Veterans Village is Edmonton's first veteran housing project, with 20 units of transitional housing built and ready to house veterans by Dec. 1.

'This has gone full circle for so many of our vets'

Tiny homes built for homeless veterans in the northeast Edmonton neighbourhood of Evansdale will open Dec. 1. (Chris Martin/CBC)

A village of tiny homes in the northeast neighbourhood of Evansdale is ready to welcome vulnerable veterans next week.

ATCO Veterans Village is Edmonton's first veterans' housing project, with 20 units of transitional housing built and ready to house veterans by Dec. 1.

The project was built on the advice of some 200 veterans, Dave Howard, CEO and president of Homes for Heroes Foundation, told CBC's Edmonton AM

"They wanted a hand up, not a handout," he said. 

The village also contains a full resource centre, a counsellor's office, recreational space and community gardens. 

Veterans have unique needs, Howard said, due to post traumatic stress and difficulty adjusting to civilian life after the structure of the military.

The homes are small, in part, so veterans aren't overwhelmed after living in barracks, he said. 

Plus, larger living spaces can introduce other issues, Howard said.

"When you're dealing with bigger spaces, 700 square feet, with someone that has zero possessions, there's a tendency to want to hoard," he said. 

"And when you start to hoard then you do set yourself off and then you're introducing a whole bunch of other problems. So tiny homes really worked."

New housing project opens for homeless veterans

1 year ago
Duration 1:09
Residents can begin moving into Veterans Village, an affordable-housing project of 20 small homes in Edmonton, on Dec. 1.

The homes in the village are also set facing each other to give veterans a sense of community so "they take care of each other," he said.

This is the second village built by the foundation.

The first, built in Calgary with 15 homes, was successful in helping nine veterans transition into permanent housing and jobs after an average stay of two years.

"This has gone full circle for so many of our vets, and we'll do the same thing in the great community of Evansdale," he said.

Dave Howard is the CEO and president of Homes for Heroes Foundation. His foundation is responsible for building small transitional homes for veterans. (Chris Martin/CBC)

Howard said he watched his grandfather struggle with PTSD after serving in the Second World War.

 His grandfather cut himself off from the family, moving to Vancouver.

Howard went to visit.

"What I saw was a broken man and he needed help and he wasn't accessing those supports."

The foundation is working on building a similar village in Kingston, Ont., and planning one for Winnipeg.

Howard hopes those communities are as helpful as Edmonton was in bringing this project to light. 

"It takes a village to build a village and the community of Edmonton has been amazing support," he said. 

The $4-million project was built with funding from the province, city and private and corporate donors.

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