In the heart of Fredericton, New Brunswick, 12 Neighbours, led by entrepreneur Marcel LeBren, is reshaping community development with a unique focus on addressing homelessness. This groundbreaking initiative moves beyond conventional housing solutions, intertwining permanent housing, personal development supports, and progressive employment.
The first pillar, "Permanent Housing," redefines the concept of shelter for the homeless. The tiny homes, meticulously designed with fully equipped kitchens, living and sleeping areas, bathrooms, small terraces, solar panels on the roofs, and an aesthetically pleasing layer of paint, serve as more than physical structures. They become a cornerstone for a unique form of healing where the community itself becomes the agent of recovery.
Continuing into "Personal Development Supports," 12 Neighbours envisions a world where individuals overcome barriers to lead full and independent lives. By offering developmental supports like substance use recovery counseling, health and education opportunities, the organization adopts an approach centered on the individual, trauma-informed recovery, and strength-based development.
In the realm of "Progressive Employment," the initiative taps into the transformative power of meaningful work. By providing low-barrier, patient, and progressive employment opportunities, 12 Neighbours empowers individuals to learn, grow, and succeed in re-entering the workforce.
Marcel LeBren's journey from a social media analysis company owner to a community builder reflects his commitment to addressing homelessness. Investing $4 million of his own money and securing an additional $8 million from the local government, LeBren's vision materializes in the form of a factory that assembles a tiny home in just four days. The goal is ambitious yet attainable: constructing a neighborhood to accommodate 99 families, with 70 already housed.
These tiny homes are equipped with everything essential for comfortable living, providing more than just shelter. Each unit features fully equipped kitchens, living and sleeping areas, bathrooms, small terraces, solar panels on the roofs, and an aesthetically pleasing layer of paint. Beyond housing, 12 Neighbours aims to establish a recreational center where local residents can work. This space will house cafes and businesses, aligning with LeBren's vision of not just creating a community but also addressing poverty to enhance the overall well-being of the city.
In addition to the ongoing construction, the organization actively champions Sustainable Development Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities). By providing permanent housing, fostering personal development, and promoting progressive employment, 12 Neighbours directly contributes to creating inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable communities.
The tangible impact is undeniable: 300+ feminists representing 170 countries, 240+ journalists and content creators, 600 scholarship recipients, 87+ sponsors and funders, and over 10,000 online participants have joined the cause. 12 Neighbours emerges as a dynamic force, proving that addressing homelessness goes beyond physical structures—it involves building communities, fostering personal growth, and providing meaningful employment.
As Marcel LeBren envisions, they are not merely creating a small community; they are actively contributing to solving poverty, making their city a better place. In a world striving for Sustainable Development Goals, 12 Neighbours demonstrating that impactful change starts at home, no matter how tiny it may be.
More information: https://www.12neighbours.com
Youtube credits: @CBCTheNational