A village of 15 self-contained tiny homes for military veterans is one of four projects announced Tuesday as part of a federal strategy to help soldiers who have fallen on hard times.
Ottawa provides $3 million annually to organizations from a fund for veterans and their families to pay for housing, employment and mental-health initiatives.
The 37-square-metre homes in Calgary will come with kitchens and bathrooms. They will be run by The Mustard Seed street ministry, which partnered with Homes for Heroes, a group that supports military veterans returning to civilian life.
There will also be counselling for mental health, employment training and help for veterans as they transition to permanent housing over a one-year period.
“They’re beautiful little buildings. They really are,” said Stephen Wile, CEO of The Mustard Seed.
“There’s also a clubhouse for the veterans … We’ve discovered unless you can build community you’re not really going to be able to impact people’s lives.”
Wile said there will be staff to find jobs for those who want them, because many veterans don’t realize the transferable skills they have.
Another village of homes is planned for Calgary as well as one for Edmonton in the next year.
Other projects announced Tuesday include a community-based pilot program to transition soldiers into the post-service workplace. Research is also to be done by the Legacy Place Society on the wellness of veterans in crisis.
“In many cases they don’t want to seem reliant on anyone. They’re very much self-starters and very much independent. It’s what the military teaches you to be,” explained Legacy Place board member Bill McAuley, a retired Canadian Forces captain.
“In a controlled environment like the military, there’s a lot of supports. Once you’re out on your own it’s a lot more complex.”
Federal Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay was in Calgary to make the announcement.
He said although the government is providing the funding, it is taking direction from those who know best.
“The people that are doing the work on the ground feel that these are the programs that will give them the opportunity to end homelessness in the veterans community.
“What we want to do is have no veteran without a home.”
A 2016 study estimated there were about 2,500 homeless veterans in Canada.
Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press