Homeless veterans getting houses thanks to Homes for Heroes

With two regiments and a naval vessel bearing the Calgary name, it should be no surprise the city has a long, storied military history. And a local non-profit is hoping to build on that military tradition by helping house Canadian veterans facing homelessness.

The Homes for Heroes Foundation unveiled plans for its village of affordable tiny homes in Bridgeland on Wednesday, a project aimed at housing the estimated 160 homeless veterans in Calgary.

Built by Calgary-based ATCO in a hanger that was once part of Calgary’s Currie Barracks, the housing community will feature 20 private micro-homes with all the amenities of a larger house, only scaled-down into a tiny package.

An artist’s rendering of what the final Homes For Heroes Calgary village will look like. The organization is already working on a similar project in Edmonton where there are another estimated 240 homeless veterans. April 18, 2018. Gavin Young/Postmedia

David Howard, co-founder and president of Homes for Heroes, said the charity is working with other cities on similar projects and the Calgary village “is one step of many,” which will help house Canada’s more than 2,500 homeless or at-risk veterans.

“We are confident we can end the homeless issue facing our veterans — we can do that within a 10-year period,” Howard said.

The village will provide full-service care for veterans struggling to reintegrate to civilian life, and assist with recovering from physical and mental issues brought on by service in the armed forces.

The Mustard Seed has partnered with the foundation to lend support to the village’s on-site resource centre, helping former servicemen and women suffering from what Murray McCann with Homes for Heroes and Field of Crosses called “invisible wounds.”

“Calgarians love their soldiers and they love their veterans, and this is an opportunity to show the love that they have,” McCann said. “And believe me, when we get our first village, it’s going to be phenomenal.”

Homes For Heroes is building a new community of tiny homes which for veterans in Bridgeland. The organization released designs for the project at an announcement on Wednesday April 18, 2018. Gavin Young/Postmedia

Howard, who helped start the Veterans Food Bank, said work on the village’s homes has already begun and he expects the project will be fully underway by the fall.

Each of the 20 homes will be named after a Canadian Armed Forces member who died while serving in Afghanistan. ATCO donated $1.5 million to the project and Howard said a number of local businesses and residents also donated funds to the village.

Howard said the foundation is already working on its second village, which will be built in Edmonton where there are an estimated 240 homeless veterans.

“The fact is we cannot let these soldiers suffer any longer. There’s no excuse for it,” he said. “They put their life on the line for us, we have to be there for them.”

RRumbolt@postmedia.com

On Twitter: @RCRumbolt

Homes for Heroes brings housing to homeless veterans