The Homes for Heroes Foundation plans to build a village of 15 to 20 homes for homeless veterans. Once the foundation gets the go-ahead from Calgary’s City Council, they can begin the 60 to 90-day build process. The houses are built in a separate warehouse and will be transported onto the land.
President David Howard said the ultimate goal is to build one to two villages in every major city across Canada.
“In Calgary, we have two pieces of land, we’re going through the process on the builds for those. We are working with the city of Edmonton on a site there, and we’ve chatted with other cities across Canada,” he said. “What we’re asking the municipalities for, is land. We’re looking for land that we can either purchase at a large discount or lease for a minimum of a 20-year term.”
One village costs $2.5 million to build. Two million dollars will be spent to build the houses and acquiring the land, and $500,000 will be placed in a trust to continually keep up with maintenance and other costs associated with running the village.
“Veterans will pay a rent and a small piece of that will go in trust. The idea is that we won’t need to continually fundraise, we’re not asking for subsidies and so forth,” said Howard. “Once they’re up and built, they’ll be run by our social service partners, we don’t expect we’ll be needing to do further fundraising.”
Homes for Heroes was created in partnership with Canadian Legacy Project and McCann Family Foundation, and they feel the number of homeless veterans in Canada is unacceptable.
“We ask the men and women of our military to put their life on the line, sacrifice themselves for our country. Sadly, when they leave, many of them are quickly discarded, and many of them are broken,” said Howard.
The idea behind Homes for Heroes provides homeless veterans with a home to call their own and social servicing to help them transition from military life and enter civilian life more confidently.
“We need to pay tribute, respect and give them any advantage we possibly can,” he said. “I think we owe that as Canadians.”
Once the houses are onsite, each of the houses will be named after fallen Canadian soldiers. Howard hopes it will remind the veterans that, “Even though today may not be a good day, tomorrow can always be better.”
While the idea originally began to help homeless veterans, Howard believes this concept could work with other groups as well.
“It works with seniors, it can work with student populations, immigrant populations as temporary housing. This is a solution that I think a lot of people need to look at,” he said.