FREDERICTON (GNB) – The first phase of a project to build micro-homes for people currently experiencing homelessness in Fredericton is receiving support from the Department of Social Development.

“Partnerships with community organizations such as 12 Neighbours Community Inc. are an essential part of our commitment to address homelessness,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch. “The micro-home project is an extremely innovative way to provide a roof to people in need.”

The department is contributing $1,440,000 in the form of a forgivable loan to the $2,332,395 project through the Affordable Rental Housing Program. It will also provide rent supplements to each of the new housing units of this first phase to ensure that tenants do not pay more than 30 per cent of their total household income in rent.

Funding for the project comes from the Canada-New Brunswick Bilateral Agreement under the 2017 National Housing Strategy, through which $300 million will be invested to ensure that the most vulnerable populations have safe, affordable housing options.

Located at 269 Two Nations Crossing in Fredericton, the 12 Neighbours community will consist of a series of fully independent and detached micro-homes on their own small private yard. The first phase of the project, to be completed by March 2023, entails 36 micro-homes being arranged in neighbourhood blocks of 12. Each home will be 18 sq. metres (200 sq. feet) and will have a covered front deck. The homes will have three-piece bathrooms, fully equipped kitchens, sleeping spaces for one or two people, plus living and dining areas. The homes will also have storage lofts and cathedral ceilings.

"Housing is essential to one’s sense of dignity, safety, inclusion and ability to contribute to the fabric of our neighbourhoods and societies,” said Fredericton MP Jenica Atwin. “Today’s announcement reaffirms just that by providing many New Brunswick families with a place to call home. The collaboration shown between the Government of Canada, the Province of New Brunswick and 12 Neighbours Community Inc. demonstrates a commitment to the belief that nothing is more important than a home. Together, we are doing our part to house Canadians.”

Atwin spoke on behalf of federal Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Minister Ahmed Hussen.

The micro-homes will be built in accordance with the province’s Green Building standards and will be connected to the city water and sewer system. The community will eventually include a social enterprise centre with retail space and services. Further phases of the projects have the goal of creating 96 micro-homes within the next two years.

“We are extremely happy to have the support of the Department of Social Development on this project,” said Marcel LeBrun, founder of 12 Neighbours Community Inc. “Individuals currently experiencing homelessness are often struggling with many issues which become severe obstacles in their life. The path to recovery begins with an affordable and safe home within an inclusive and supportive community.”

12 Neighbours is the latest project to be added to the department’s efforts to deliver wrap-around support and housing subsidies that can provide people in need with permanent housing. Other recent projects receiving provincial funding include the Rising Tide project in Moncton and the John Howard Society housing project in Fredericton.

The Department of Social Development invests more than $5 million each year to address homelessness. Since 2019, thanks to various efforts by the department in partnership with community groups, more than 550 at-risk homeless people have accessed and maintained affordable housing across the province.