Homelessness is a persistent issue that plagues cities of all sizes, both in Canada and around the world. While efforts are being made by governments and organizations to combat this problem, finding effective solutions remains a challenge. However, one compassionate and forward-thinking millionaire from Fredericton, New Brunswick has taken matters into his own hands. Marcel LeBrun, a successful entrepreneur, has invested $4 million dollars of his own wealth to construct 99 tiny homes for the homeless in his community. Not only has he provided safe and stable housing, but he has also created job opportunities through his innovative approach. Let’s explore the heartwarming story of Marcel LeBrun and his project, 12 Neighbours.
The Origins of 12 Neighbours
After selling his company and acquiring a significant fortune, LeBrun made the conscious decision to use his newfound wealth to bring about positive change. Recognizing the homelessness problem in Fredericton, he envisioned a community of tiny homes that could offer a fresh start to individuals experiencing homelessness. Thus, the project 12 Neighbours was born. LeBrun’s goal was to create a gated community consisting of 99 tiny homes, along with an enterprise center, which would provide both housing and job opportunities.
Addressing a Pressing Issue
Homelessness affects many people in New Brunswick, with approximately 1,600 individuals experiencing homelessness at least once last year alone. While larger cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York face even higher numbers, Marcel LeBrun saw an opportunity to make a tangible difference in his hometown. He dedicated himself to improving the lives of those facing this challenging situation.
Building a Community
For LeBrun, 12 Neighbours is not just about constructing tiny homes; it’s about creating a supportive environment for residents. The tiny homes are fully-furnished living spaces, carefully designed with kitchens, living areas, bedrooms, full bathrooms, and even solar panel systems on the roofs. These homes offer more than just shelter; they provide a sense of belonging and hope.
Constructing the Homes
To bring his vision to life, LeBrun set up a factory where skilled volunteers could gather to assemble the tiny homes. Utilizing advanced manufacturing techniques, the factory produces one tiny home every four business days. Once constructed, the homes are carefully moved onto concrete blocks, establishing the foundation of the community.
The Impact of Ownership
Marcel LeBrun firmly believes that homeownership plays a crucial role in offering a sense of responsibility and stability to those who have experienced homelessness. By providing the opportunity for individuals to own their own property, 12 Neighbours aims to empower its residents and foster a close-knit community.
The Importance of Jobs
The 12 Neighbours project not only focuses on providing housing but also on creating job opportunities for its residents. Within the community’s enterprise center, residents independently manage a coffee bar and a silk printing business. This entrepreneurial initiative generates income and encourages interaction between residents and the wider community.
Controversy and Criticism
As with any ambitious project, 12 Neighbours has faced some criticism. Some argue that reintegrating homeless individuals directly into society is a better approach, rather than congregating them together. However, LeBrun acknowledges these concerns and has taken measures to ensure the security and well-being of the community. He believes that a stable living environment is essential for people to thrive.
Securing the Community
Recognizing the need for security, Marcel LeBrun has implemented state-of-the-art measures within the 12 Neighbours community. With gated entrances and top-notch surveillance, the community provides a safe and protected space for its residents. LeBrun understands that residents need to feel in control of their own space, so they can create the living environment they desire.
One of the underlying goals of 12 Neighbours is to foster a sense of community, not just within its gates but also beyond them. LeBrun aims to create a space where the residents and the people of Fredericton can come together. Services such as a coffee bar and personalized printing are offered to promote interaction and understanding between residents and the broader community. LeBrun envisions not only building a little community but also strengthening the entire city.
Making A Difference
Marcel LeBrun’s initiative to combat homelessness in Fredericton, New Brunswick, by constructing 99 tiny homes, is an awe-inspiring example of using personal success to make a positive impact. With the creation of 12 Neighbours, LeBrun has not only provided a practical solution to homelessness but has also offered job opportunities and established a supportive community. Through his philanthropy and dedication, he has become a beacon of hope for those in need and an inspiration for others who desire to make a difference.
- “12 Neighbours closer to goal of building 99 tiny homes — but not without growing pains.” CBC. Jeanne Armstrong. September 25, 2023.
- “Why the US doesn’t have enough affordable housing #shorts.” Youtube. VOX. 2023.