Of all of the efforts to create low-income housing, relieve homelessness and help the working poor, is there one better than Habitat for Humanity?
More than its glib motto – a hand up, not a handout – Habitat is a brilliant concept that has spread from its roots in Georgia to become an international organization.
It has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 400,000 houses worldwide, providing safe, decent and affordable shelter for more than two million people.
In Canada alone since 1985, it has dedicated almost 1,800 homes. There are 72 affiliates in 10 provinces and two territories, including the Vancouver Island North branch, which includes the Comox Valley and Campbell River.
The region’s next build will be at 1580 Piercy Ave. in Courtenay, the one after that will be in Campbell River and then it’s back to Piercy to add more units.
The concept’s brilliance begins with buying properties with sub-standard or unlivable buildings. Salvageable material from their ‘deconstruction’ goes to Habitat ReStores, which sells it, then plows the money into new builds.
Candidate families are screened for suitability. Performing 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ such as helping with deconstructions helps to qualify them for an interest-free mortgage.
Because families must pay off their homes, they have a sense of ownership rather than entitlement, which means they take care of their homes better than most renters or people who have had their homes given to them.
Habitat’s families can run into the NIMBY (not in my back yard) syndrome, but these are hard-working people with low incomes who deserve a chance.
People who understand how Habitat works get behind it – such as local realtors Ronni Lister, Harmony Dyck and Richard Verrier. Mayor Greg Phelps of Courtenay is a staunch supporter.
How about you?
For more information, call the ReStore at 250-334-3784 or visit habitatnorthisland.com.