WeCan Shelter Society builds two more homes for homeless in Courtenay

WeCan Shelter Society builds two more homes for homeless in Courtenay

The WeCan Shelter Society in Courtenay unveiled its two latest homes on Saturday.

The homeless population in the Comox Valley has seen an over 200 per cent increase in the past three years based on a BC Housing Research Centre Report.

The WeCan Shelter Society provides homes for the unhoused by converting shipping containers/sea cans into safe, modern and welcome environments.

The Grand Opening now marks the 10th and 11th homes that WeCan has constructed with donations from the community, including local construction suppliers, businesses, community groups, private individuals, and volunteers.

WeCan receives no government funding and has started construction on its 12th home.

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The interior of one of the sea can homes is shown. (CHEK News)

(CHEK News)

WeCan Co-founder Charlene Davis is overwhelmed by the outflow of support from the community and is excited to see yet another small home occupied by someone looking to make a new start.

“The homeless are invisible and they become less than human after they’ve been without a home for any length of time,” Davis told CHEK News Saturday. “We wanted to tell them that we see you, we understand what you’re going through and we’re going to give you our best so you can do your best.”

SEE PREVIOUS: Container homes the answer to homelessness, says Comox Valley group

Bob had been living on the streets of Courtenay for months but has been living in a tiny home made out of a sea can for about a year, and it might have saved his life.

“I mean, it’s not big, but it’s safe, secure and warm and dry,” he said. “I’ll tell you one thing, it’s one hell of an upgrade from a park bench and I think they should build hundreds more of these.”

A small community of sea can homes is coming together at Maple Pool campground in Courtenay as WeCan Shelter and its numerous volunteers build them every year.

“So this is kind of like phase one of the build where we’ve got a bare can, we’ve had the windows and walls cut out and welded for us,” said volunteer Jeff Lucas during a tour Saturday.

They take about three months to complete and it’s all done by volunteers.

“Over 400 hours of volunteers go into this. Blood, sweat, tears and a lot of laughs,” Lucas added.

A great deal of the project and supplies are donated, but the WeCan homes cost $30,000 to build the residence that includes a shower, toilet, sink, minifridge and built-in bed. A small water tank heats the home, and a 16 foot x 8 foot deck provides additional space for the resident.

“Now I have hot running water. Yeah, I’m overwhelmed actually,” said Kim Hamilton who also lives in a converted shipping container. “I came from a trailer that was literally falling apart around me.”

With such a big homelessness problem in the valley, this solution helps just one at a time, but people who donate see real results.

“They know that we’re not going to waste money holding meetings and forming committees and doing studies and surveys and all kinds of stuff, we’re just going to keep building,” said Davis.

The homes might be small in size at 8 feet by 20 feet, but they are making a huge difference.

RELATED: Tiny Town supportive housing to reopen on Caledonia Avenue

Dean StoltzDean Stoltz

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