Canadian millionaire Marcel LeBrun, who founded a successful media monitoring company, decided to tackle homelessness in his community of Fredericton, New Brunswick. After selling his company, he allocated a significant amount of money to address the growing issue of homelessness.
In 2023, data from the Human Development Council revealed a 25% increase in homelessness in New Brunswick, with 1,829 individuals experiencing homelessness for at least a day, and 654 facing chronic homelessness for a year or more. Despite the larger numbers in big cities like San Francisco and New York, LeBrun saw an opportunity to make a difference locally.
LeBrun’s project, called 12 Neighbours, invested $4 million to build 99 tiny homes for those in need. With grants and support from the government, the project’s funding expanded to $12 million.
The idea is to create a gated community with tiny homes and an enterprise center to reduce homelessness in New Brunswick. These homes, fabricated in a factory established by LeBrun’s project, are not just shelters. They are fully furnished living spaces with kitchens, living areas, bedrooms, full bathrooms, and even solar panel systems on the roofs.
To speed up the process, a factory with skilled builders was established to assemble the homes using advanced manufacturing techniques. On average, one tiny home is produced every four business days. After construction, the homes are carefully moved onto concrete blocks forming the foundation of the community.
LeBrun’s vision is not only about providing housing but also about building a supportive community. The project aims to instill a sense of responsibility and stability by giving residents the opportunity to own their property. The enterprise center, featuring a coffee bar and silk printing business run by residents, provides job opportunities and encourages interaction with the broader community.
While the project has faced criticism for sequestering homeless individuals, LeBrun emphasizes security measures, such as gated entrances and surveillance systems, to ensure a safe space for residents.
He acknowledges the challenges and hopes that giving residents control over their space will address some of the issues they face.
The ultimate goal of the millionaire’s community housing project is to create a self-sustaining community where people want to live. By providing a chance for a better life, the project aims to make a positive impact on the lives of those experiencing homelessness.
It serves as an inspiring example of using personal success to contribute to society and transform lives.