By Jocelyn Birkes
Sid is homeless and living in Brantford. Several months ago, he approached Belonging Brant with an idea to help improve his living situation and that of others in Brantford through an initiative to bring affordable housing to the city.
He’d heard about other municipalities building “tiny homes” to help address the housing crisis. Tiny homes refer to small, low-cost dwellings that can either be built on designated lots of land or on people’s property.
Sid wondered if tiny homes might be a solution to curbing homelessness in Brantford.
Belonging Brant liked Sid’s idea and the organization began researching tiny-home projects in other cities to see if the concept could be viable in Brantford.
Belonging Brant recently joined a design café during Tiny Homes and Accessory Dwellings Housing Summit Nov. 4 to share the idea with other stakeholders, including interested citizens and community organizations.
Thanks to Sid’s inspiration, a pilot project to build one tiny home in Brantford is in the works.
We recently spoke with Sid about his vision of how the homeless crisis in Brantford should be addressed, what tiny homes should look like in Brantford and what the community can do to help ensure such a project would be successful.
I just want a place where I can live and have security so nobody will steal my belongings.
What is your vision for helping people who are homeless? What do people need to help them live better?
For me, personally, I just want a place where I can live and have security so nobody will steal my belongings. And maybe a locker or a storage container unit. People also need access to toilets and electricity. You don’t even really need heat. If you have a little heater, you’re fine as long as you have electricity. There should also be another shower station and maybe a laundry facility.
If tiny homes were built in Brantford, what is your vision of what they would look like?
It would be good to have a couple of locations for these homes. Maybe not just one location, but a few. And they should be on lots with security as well as access to electricity, toilets and showers.
If tiny homes came to Brantford, do you think it would be useful?
Oh, yeah, definitely.
What could the community do to make tiny homes possible?
I don’t know what has to be done, what kinds of authorizations there would need to be, but the city has to be involved for sure. I’m sure the city owns land that they could volunteer for this. If everybody got together and decided that it would be a good idea and we built tiny homes, it would take lots of load off of shelters like Rosewood House and the Salvation Army.
I’d like people to understand that there’s nowhere you can go to camp when you’re homeless except outside of town.
What else can the community do to help people who are homeless?
I think people have to be more accepting of people camping on their property and in city parks. I’d like people to understand that there’s nowhere you can go to camp when you’re homeless except outside of town.
What would be the best thing that can happen in Brantford to address the housing crisis?
Like I said, to have the city build a few lots with the amenities. And it doesn’t have to be super expensive stuff, even if they used portable toilets. Even if they built shacks; you can put together shacks for a couple of hundred dollars each. And they could use recycled materials. Ask construction companies to donate planks and things like that. You just have to get somebody to build them. And I’m sure you could do it on a really low budget.
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