“The community cares!” says the dynamic, personable and somewhat retiring Dave Howard, the tireless founder and president of the Homes For Heroes Foundation, which was developed in response to the growing number of Canada’s military veterans who are facing crisis as they return to civilian life and find themselves on the path to homelessness.
“There is a shocking and disturbing estimate that some 5,000 veterans on the street in Canada. These veterans put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms, and now they need, and deserve, our caring and our support.”
It is the game-changing focus and commitment of Homes For Heroes.
“It’s not a hand out,” Howard roars, “but a hand-up! Providing veterans with employment, housing and other vital resources, services and training that will enable them to successfully transition back into civilian life. After all, these men and woman stood on guard for our country. The Homes for Heroes Foundation, has taken on the role of standing up for them and being there in their time of need.”
Perhaps the highest visibility projects are the unique, affordable and intimate urban villages in major cities across Canada (like the ATCO Veterans Village at 36th Street SE in Calgary), where homeless veterans can successfully integrate back into civilian life and achieve their goal of living independently in the long term.
The Homes For Heroes villages consist of 15 to 25 individual ‘tiny homes’ arranged in a park-like setting. Each home is less than 300 square feet and, by design, all face inward to facilitate peer-to-peer support and to also incorporate a central resource centre, social workers’ office, community garden and other amenities.
“It has been a long process, and a lot of people were skeptical because it had never been done before. The dedication and selfless hard work of our social workers are critical for what we do,” the gung-ho Dave Howard points out.
“Thanks to a long list of corporate and private Housing Champions and Village Supporters, in just a little over three years, we have built 35 homes and helped 83 veterans successfully integrate, move out and move up to jobs, permanent housing and a better life.”
Howard smiles that he has not quite retired, as much as moved into the bleachers, making way for Brad Field, with over 30 years of local and international, private and not-for-profit leadership experience, to lead Homes For Heroes as its president and CEO.
He explains that as the charity has grown, there is a need for fresh perspectives for managing and directing the program. A need for an updated operating model and strategic vision.
“We are in the business of saving lives, and we have been very successful in doing that with our two villages operating in Calgary and Edmonton. But we are about to open another two Veterans Villages, in Kingston and Winnipeg, which doubles our capacity. And Brad has a great vision for growth and for the charity to succeed.
“My focus is now whatever it takes to make it happen. Working with municipal, provincial and federal stakeholders and other groups across the country, presenting our model and our success and helping Homes For Heroes grow.”