Numbers from Veterans Affairs Canada (VAC) shows that, as of March 2020, our nation’s veteran population was at 629,300. We owe a huge debt of gratitude to the brave men and women that put their lives on the line for our freedom. Yet, as many as 5,000 veterans are currently homeless in Canada. Our veterans need and deserve housing and support. Homes For Heroes was created to provide the resources needed to fill this gap.
Founded by David Howard, Homes For Heroes is on a mission to integrate homeless military veterans into the community by providing housing and support services across Canada. Homes For Heroes accomplishes this by building affordable urban villages in major cities and providing the resources required to achieve long-term independent living.
Howard is not a veteran, but he saw the need for Homes For Heroes firsthand.
“My grandfather was a veteran,” he explains. “I saw him grapple with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). After he passed I felt a drive to get involved, with the understanding that the initiative had to be more than just about housing. Social support was also needed.”
Currently there is a Homes For Heroes village in Calgary. Construction of the Edmonton location (ATCO Evansdale) started in April 2021. Plans are also underway for the Kingston Village in Ontario. Villages consist of 15-25 individual tiny homes. All the homes face inward in a park-style setting. The placement and setting help with peer-to-peer support. While each home is less than 300 square feet, they are fully equipped with a kitchen, bed, and three piece bathroom.
Villages are also designed with a full-time on-site support counsellor, an activity/resource centre, and a family suite so residents’ family members can visit. There are on-site support programs, professional landscaping and access to public transportation – everything needed to uplift the veteran as they transition back into society.
“Our goal is to build a Homes For Heroes Village in every major city,” says Howard.
He continues, noting, “So far the response has been incredible. Since we opened in Calgary, we have had about eight graduates from the program. They are working full time and have come back to mentor the new tenants. This is more than we could have imagined. It’s a wonderful community atmosphere where veterans support each other.
You can support this cause too by making a donation (homesforheroesfoundation.ca/donate) or by contacting the organization to see how you can help. “To build across Canada we need a combination of support from federal and municipal governments, companies and individuals,” says Howard. “We all have a part to play for those that have served, and for those that are having a hard time transitioning right now.”
He concludes, “We are fortunate to have the support of the Edmonton community; not just the city, province, and government, but also the residents that truly support and care for veterans.”
Learn more at homesforheroesfoundation.ca.