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Chippewas of the Thames build affordable micro homes in community-led effort to address housing needs | CBC News

Micro homes are being built in Chippewas of the Thames First Nation, part of a student-run program to address homelessness and increase the amount of affordable housing in the community.

Two micro homes are nearly finished after 14weeks of construction in the community, which is about 40 km southwest of London, Ont.

The project, Building New Futures Together (BNFT), kicked off in September. It’s a partnership between Chippewas of the Thames First Nation and the non-profit training organization Pathways Employment Help Centre. Students hand-picked for the program were given an opportunity to learn construction skills while building affordable one-person living homes for their community.

“I was overjoyed that I had a place to call home. I think that’s how the person is going to feel when they come here,” said Crystal Kechego, a student in the program and a councillor at Chippewas of the Thames.

According to Pathways, the 400-square-foot homes are designed for a single person. Each one includes a living space with a kitchen. The one-floor homes come with a bedroom and connected bathroom.

Corrina MacDonald, director of skills training at Pathways Employment Health Centre, said building the micro homes is part of the hands-on learning process for students. (Clement Goh/ CBC News)

The houses started with a foundation from another company, Kechego and her fellow students built the wooden truss frame before installing the flooring, windows, roofing and paint.

“I learned that I can repair my house now if I need to. I’m not afraid to use power tools. I made some reconnections with community members and really connected with my peers,” she said.

The micro homes are part of an effort to support sustainable and affordable housing for Chippewas of the Thames. (Clement Goh/ CBC London)

“I’m hoping to see a team put together where they continue building in our community,” said Kim Smith, employment and training director for Chippewas of the Thames First Nation.

The project is part of an effort to house young adults facing homelessness in the community. Two houses have been built so far, but the program is looking to expand, adding more homes and creating a team dedicated to building them.

“Most of them (students) are either homeowners or they rent from the nation already, so that they will be able to do their own home repairs, versus bringing in a contractor who’s going to charge terribly high amounts,” Smith said.

The micro homes could cost around $80,000 each and include a single living space with a kitchen, bedroom and connected bathroom. (Clement Goh/ CBC News)

The homes are still being costed in order to keep them affordable for potential owners, but will likely cost around $80,000, said Corrina MacDonald, director of skills training at Pathways.

“If we were going to be building homes here and continuing to do it beyond this one home, we wanted the community to be a part of it. We wanted the community to feel the impact of it and want to continue the project as well,” she said.

Each micro home comes with single bedroom and bathroom combination, all built within 14 weeks by the program participants. (Clement Goh/ CBC News)

That impact is already being felt, said Kechego. 

“The first thing that comes to my mind is my grandson,” she said, remembering the young boy’s excitement whenever they drove by the site.

“I think about him being the next generation and he’s going to say ‘My grandma did this, I can do it.'”

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