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Birdhouse project raises funds for Oliver, B.C. homeless population – Okanagan

A community art project in Oliver, B.C., has been raising funds for the local homeless population.

Oliver Councillor Dave Mattes, his wife, along with local organizations helped bring his idea to life nearly two years ago.

The project includes 40 unique birdhouses located on the corner of Main Street and Fairview Road.

“I don’t know where I got the idea. I had a bunch of friends, I had the local community and [The Painted Chair], had them paint all the poles for me,” said Mattes.

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“Then I had friends and family paint the birdhouses that we built. I believe we built around 40 and then put the posts in, had a contractor donate his time to put the posts in, and then we just installed them all in one day.”

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People are able to sponsor a birdhouse with the money going directly to the local homeless population.

Since the project launched, they’ve had around 36 sponsors.

“I chose homelessness because it’s a cause that’s near and dear to me personally and I just see the impact on people. I don’t know anyone directly that is homeless, but I see it everywhere and it’s a universal problem,” said Mattes.

“I know that people’s lives change in an instant — when you think of how people end up homeless, it’s often a single accident that happens.”

Meanwhile, the giant bird featured on the sign and each birdhouse were made to shed light on the many factors that Mattes believes contribute to homelessness.

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Including birdhouses made of food labels and campaign signs as well as ones built to look like Oliver’s Correctional Centre and a school house.

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“There’s a large bird on the side next to us here and that relates to the size of the problem in relation to the size of our solutions. The bird being big and birdhouses being small with no access for the homeless people. We’ve also got some of what I consider to be causes of homelessness,” said Mattes.

“Because they’re all factors in homelessness. They’re not causes but they’re not helps either.”

Since launching the project, Mattes says the issue hasn’t gotten worse but has yet to get better. Adding that there isn’t a blanket solution to solving homelessness.

“There’s no single one there’s no there’s no magic bullet here. There’s because each person that’s homeless has a different cause for their homelessness,” he said.

For now, they are working on replacing some of the empty poles but are not sure if they will add any more birdhouses to the collection.

If you would like to sponsor a birdhouse, you can call Dave Mattes directly at (250)-488-5936.

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