A modular home business has stepped forward to offer support to a grassroots group that wants to see a tiny home community established in Peterborough to house people experiencing homelessness.
Steven Haylestrom, senior consultant with The Modular Solution located in Warkworth, has offered his expertise in the field to help with the tiny home movement in Peterborough.
He said he has worked on modular housing projects in Vancouver and British Columbia where he has built hundreds of modular units for people in need.
“When I was out west, I led a team, where we did that (built modular housing) in the city of Vancouver and established more than 600 in Vancouver and then another 700 throughout British Columbia,” Haylestrom said.
The units were constructed so they had everything a person would need to live in them, he said.
“These units, they have a kitchenette, with a hot plate, a sink, a bathroom and shower,” Haylestrom said.
“They are a 320-square-foot bachelor apartment and people are meant to be there for a year or less, come in get themselves sorted out, find the programs they need and move to other housing.”
The concept is a huge leap, homelessness advocate Dan Hennessey said.
“I have been talking about tiny homes for five years, finally my voice is reaching the right people’s ears and people are stepping forward,” Hennessey said.
“People need a space of their own with supports on site to grow and thrive and be better citizens and contributing members of society.”
Haylestrom said one of the things that really caught his ear was the way Hennessey spoke about the community.
“When you transition people, what I learned in Vancouver was the importance of creating community,” Haylestrom said. “People on the street, they require some assistance to establish themselves and you can’t just put them into a rooming house and expect miracles.”
A modular tiny home community would need a main hub offering services to people, he said.
“Part of that space is for a facility to be there to assist the people with some sort of counselling,” Haylestrom said.
People would need ongoing supports when they transition from the streets to living in a tiny home or modular home, Hennessey said.
“Whether it be mental health support, addiction support, job support, training for jobs, teaching somebody WHMIS or Fall Arrest, or safe food handlers’ course,” Hennessey said.
“When people have a place of their own and they are well rested they are more likely to learn, and they are going to be more productive, and feel safe, and this is just a huge step.”
Haylestrom said the concept is an opportunity to give back to the community as Peterborough was an important part of his life.
“I realized this was an opportunity for me to use an existing skillset and to make some sort of difference for people, that is really what it is all about,” Haylestrom said.
“It is pretty simple, I have designs, I have connections, I have people willing to participate as far as helping with permitting, all those things you have to do when you are trying to build anything.”
Hennessey said helping people move up from the streets would have a great impact on the community.
“It’s just the first step and we are going to have to push hard,” Hennessey said. “We are going to have to build unity within different organizations, different groups, church groups, social groups, to get this off the ground.”
The city has not taken any steps to allow tiny homes in the municipality. City council recently considered a proposal to put up 10 modular houses on a city-owned property at 681 Monaghan Rd., but was turned down for federal funding for the plan.