Every city around the globe, regardless of size, grapples with the challenge of homelessness. Despite efforts from governments, non-profit organizations, and various groups, the problem persists. In an inspiring turn of events, a Canadian millionaire took a unique approach to tackle homelessness in his city. Here's his story.
Fredericton's Millionaire Takes Bold Step: Constructs 99 Tiny Houses to Tackle Homelessness And Boost Employment
In Fredericton, New Brunswick, a millionaire with a vision embarked on a mission to alleviate homelessness. Marcel LeBrun, a successful entrepreneur known for founding a leading social media monitoring company, dedicated $4 million of his personal wealth to construct 99 tiny homes for the homeless. His initiative not only offers secure housing but also creates jobs, showcasing a novel way to address societal issues. Discover the journey of Marcel LeBrun and his groundbreaking 12 Neighbours project.
The Origins Of 12 Neighbours
Following the lucrative sale of his company, LeBrun chose to use his fortune for social good. Aware of the homelessness issue in Fredericton, he conceived the idea of a tiny home community to give the homeless a fresh start. This initiative, named 12 Neighbours, aims to establish a secure community with 99 homes and a business center. This plan promises not just shelter but also employment opportunities, offering a holistic solution to those in need.
Addressing A Pressing Issue
In New Brunswick, homelessness is a major concern, with around 1,600 people experiencing it at some point last year. Compared to larger cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York in the USA, the numbers are significantly higher. Marcel LeBrun recognized a chance to make a meaningful impact and improve the lives of those dealing with this hardship.
Building A Community
LeBrun's concept for 12 Neighbours is not just about building tiny homes; it's about nurturing a community. He sees himself as a catalyst for community development, aiming to provide a nurturing environment for the inhabitants. These tiny homes are well-equipped living spaces, featuring kitchens, lounges, bedrooms, complete bathrooms, and solar panels on their roofs.
Constructing The Homes
To realize his dream, LeBrun set up a workshop where skilled volunteers construct the homes. Employing state-of-the-art building methods, this workshop is able to complete a tiny home every four days. Once built, the homes are placed on concrete blocks, laying the foundation for this new community.
The Impact Of Ownership
Marcel LeBrun is a firm believer in the transformative power of owning a home. He thinks that having one's own place can bring a sense of responsibility and stability, particularly for those who have been homeless. 12 Neighbours not only provides shelter but also empowers its residents by enabling them to own their homes, fostering a sense of community and support.
The Importance Of Jobs
LeBrun's vision extends to creating employment for the community members. Inside 12 Neighbours, there's an enterprise center that houses a coffee shop and a silk-screen printing business, all managed by the residents. This entrepreneurial venture does more than just provide income; it also promotes interaction among the residents and with the larger community, enhancing their integration and sense of belonging.
Controversy And Criticism
As with any bold initiative, 12 Neighbours has encountered some skepticism. Critics suggest that integrating homeless people directly into the broader society might be more effective than grouping them in a separate community. Despite these concerns, LeBrun is aware of these potential issues and has implemented strategies to safeguard the community's safety and overall well-being.
"It's just as hard to go build four homes, in terms of all the hoops you have to run through, as it is to build 10 or 20, and we wanted to make a dent in the challenge that we have here in Fredericton.… If we want to actually make a meaningful difference, we have to build some houses," LeBrun stated, emphasizing his strategy over a decentralized approach.
"Let's say I take someone who's been living outside, and say, 'OK, I'm going to put you in 10-years-free rent in the highest end apartment in the city.' Are they going to succeed? That is not their community. That is not the context they're used to living in."
Securing The Community
Understanding the importance of safety, Marcel LeBrun has introduced advanced security features in the 12 Neighbours community. The area is equipped with gated entries and high-quality surveillance systems, ensuring a secure and safeguarded environment for the residents.
"[The resident] moves into a house and then other people show up and say, 'Hey, you owe me this, you owe me that,' and they kind of take over things and they have to learn, what does it mean to have a space where you are actually the manager of that space, and you control it … and you choose who you invite in and out? So, that's a challenge." LeBrun shared with CBC about the various obstacles that the residents encounter.
12 Neighbours is designed with the dual purpose of nurturing a close-knit community within its boundaries and extending its warmth to the wider Fredericton area. LeBrun's vision includes fostering interactions between the residents and the local community, utilizing facilities like a coffee shop and a custom printing service to encourage engagement and mutual understanding.
"I see myself as a community builder, and really what we're doing here is not just building a little community, but we're building a community in a city, like how do we help our city be better?" he shared with CBC.
Making A Difference
Marcel LeBrun's response to homelessness in Fredericton, New Brunswick, by building 99 tiny homes, stands as a remarkable testament to leveraging personal achievements for societal good. In establishing 12 Neighbours, LeBrun has done more than just address the issue of homelessness; he has created employment opportunities and a supportive network. His altruistic endeavors have not only given hope to those in dire situations but also set a compelling example for others to contribute positively to society.