First residents move into Fredericton tiny homes development | CBC News

Melissa and Payton Armstrong spent all of last weekend catching up on sleep — and for good reason.

After 10 months of living in a tent on Fredericton’s north side, the couple moved into their very own tiny home last Friday, one of the first to go up as part of the 12 Neighbours Community development on Two Nations Crossing.

“It’s a new beginning,” said Melissa Armstrong, speaking to CBC’s Jeanne Armstrong this week.

“And we sure did need a new beginning.”

The home is a far cry from the tent the couple shared in a wooded area behind Devon Lumber.

For starters it has electricity and plumbing, meaning they can safely stay warm and have ready access to clean water.

It has a kitchen equipped with an induction stove, microwave oven and fridge.

It also has a bathroom with a sink, toilet and stand-up shower.

It means no more sponge baths for Payton Armstrong, and no more commuting to the Downtown Community Health Centre every day for his wife to take a shower.

Melissa and Payton Armstrong moved into their tiny home in Fredericton last Friday after living in a tent for 10 months. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

“I’m a clean guy,” Armstrong said. “I’d do a little sponge bath in the woods but yeah, a shower inside is a lot better than a sponge bath.”

It’s also affordable, with the rent pegged at a third of their income, Melissa Armstrong said.

Not just functional

Marcel Lebrun is behind 12 Neighbours Community Inc., a not-for-profit that aims to eventually build a community of 96 tiny homes on the 24-hectare lot.

He pitched the project last year as a way to combat homelessness in Fredericton, and since received approval from city council.

He said he and his team did their best to design the homes to be as functional as possible, while also giving them charm.

“We finished the interior in a nice tongue and groove pine and it gives it a nice cottagey look,” he said.

“We wanted them to be a beautiful looking space, and not just one that’s functional.”

He said another two homes are also occupied, and construction is ongoing to grow the community, which will include a social enterprise centre.

“We’re focusing on creating opportunities in food, retail and construction, so our social enterprise centre will have businesses there that enable people to work on those skills and develop some credentials and experience as they go,” he said.

Payton Armstrong stands in the kitchen of his new tiny home, which includes a three-piece bathroom and kitchen. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

No longer in ‘survival mode’

Now with their own safe place to live, the couple say they’re looking forward to doing a few things most people take for granted.

They already installed a television in the home, after not having one for the past year.

Payton Armstrong, who worked in construction for most of his life, said he plans on getting crafty and building some furniture to spruce up the place.

Marcel Lebrun, founder of 12 Neighbours Community Inc., said he wanted to make the tiny homes functional, but also charming. (Mike Heenan/CBC)

And Melissa Armstrong plans to make a pot of her favourite chili, which she said is a crowd pleaser among her friends and family.

“It’s nice to have a roof over your head so you don’t have to put yourself in survival mode, you know, like ‘How are we going to survive tomorrow with this and this?'” she said.

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