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Fredericton tiny home community providing housing, opportunity

Rows of tiny homes — nearly 100 — line the 12 Neighbours Community. It took two years but after 96 tiny homes, the community is finally finished.

Marcel LeBrun founded the project and said it’s hard to believe so much time has passed already.

“We’ve been building a new home every week for two years… so it’s an exciting milestone for us,” he said.

But the work isn’t over yet.

“The houses, they say, is just an excuse for building community. So now we got the houses done, and so now our job is to go, build community and support people,” he said.

12 Neighbours provides homes and resources for people with nowhere else to go — like Al Smith, also known as Mayor Al in the community.

He used to be homeless. Since moving in two years ago, he said his life turned around.

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“I’m not invisible anymore, people can see me, and I have a voice and people can hear me,” he said.

LeBrun said he’s seen the personal growth in residents who, like Smith, moved in at the beginning of the project.

“Sometimes it takes a long journey before they kind of get some things going, but it’s amazing to see their transformation,” he said.

Lessons learned

LeBrun said he wouldn’t change anything now, but looking back there are things he’d do differently.

“We’ve learned a lot of things around how the community is actively managed, and the kinds of challenges that people have, therefore the kinds of support that they’d need,” he said.

Fredericton Mayor Kate Rogers said the city is learning as well.

“It’s been an opportunity for the city to see what is needed from us to support these projects. And it’s not always monetary,” she said.

For LeBrun, 12 Neighbours isn’t just about building homes — it’s about helping people flourish in their talents.

That’s where the employment programs come into play. 12 Neighbours has a café, a print shop, and is building tiny homes to sell.

These initiatives are all intended to help community members find what they enjoy doing and gain job experience.

“We’re not hiring people to build homes, we’re building homes to hire people,” LeBrun said.

Ultimately, Rogers said 12 Neighbours is a source of pride for Fredericton.

And it’s not just impacting people locally. Rogers observed 12 Neighbours become an example for the wider community looking to solve housing problems.

“I think it’s really galvinized a community, and that’s been very positive,” she said.

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