Affordable housing for veterans opens in north Edmonton

A new facility in the Evansdale neighbourhood is ready to provide transitional housing to struggling veterans.

The ATCO Veterans Village, which helds its grand opening on Thursday, is a partnership between all levels of government and the Homes For Heroes Foundation. The Foundation says over 200 veterans were consulted on the project.

“They advised us they wanted to come into a program, not just housing. They wanted a hand up, not a hand out,” president of Homes For Heroes Foundation David Howard said. “They wanted to get back on their feet, work on the issues that got them to the streets, get back into the workforce, and then move out to make room for the next veteran in need.”

The village includes 20 units of housing, all less than 300 square feet in size. The homes are arranged in an inward facing “barracks” format to facilitate peer support. The village also has a community garden, resource centre and counselling office to ensure veterans are successful as they transition to civilian life.

“Here they’ll find comfortable homes with all the features of larger houses, along with the peace and stability they need for a fresh start,” Premier Jason Kenney said at the grand opening.

“This village will be something like a sanctuary, a place of healing and safe harbor on the journey to new lives.”

The expected average residency time will be two years for each veteran, with a goal of helping 200 veterans over the next 20 years.

“We ask a lot of the men and women who serve our country in uniform. The armed forces mold and shape them for demanding jobs to defend our country and our freedoms. And it can be hard to let go of the training and the way of life,” said Kenney.

“Sometimes vets returning to civilian life need a helping hand to make that adjustment. But no matter what they’re experiencing, if our veterans are struggling we all need to be there for them. And we are, and that’s the message of today.”

This marks the second opening of an ATCO Veterans Village in Alberta, with the first opening in Calgary about a year ago.