The 12 Neighbours NGO is building a tiny home development in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The development consists of tiny homes that are approximately 240 square feet each, which will be offered as affordable rental housing for people with a history of homelessness. The project began with 12 tiny homes, but has since expanded to 45 units. It will eventually feature close to 100 micro houses, as well as community gardens and gathering spaces.
This project promises to build safe, affordable, and permanent housing for those facing barriers to housing and employment. However, as their project founder shared with the CBC, these homes are still just a drop in the bucket. There is a severe shortage of affordable housing in Canadian cities and a growing crisis of homelessness. Instead of supporting people to access and maintain housing, many cities are adopting punitive approaches to homelessness encampments.
The tiny homes development in New Brunswick could serve as a model for other communities across the country. The project offers a promising model for building affordable housing in a timely fashion and for addressing pressing issues relating to homelessness in Canada. Nonetheless, allotting only 240 square feet for poor and marginalised individuals highlights the double-standard at play when wealthier Canadians are building ever larger residences at the expense of the environment and on land that could house numerous community members in need.
Urban sprawl poses risks to biodiversity and habitat conservation. Given the coinciding homelessness and climate crises, perhaps tiny homes – as well as densely built apartment buildings, affordable condo units, and other reasonably-sized and reasonably-priced dwellings – can serve as an inclusive model of community development for all.