Affordable Home Ownership comes to the Columbia Basin
Habitat for Humanity Boundary (Grand Forks) and Habitat for Humanity West Kootenay (Castlegar/Nelson) announced their merger today.
Together, they will create a regional affiliate “Habitat for Humanity Southeast British Columbia”, (HFHSEBC) with a service area that includes the Boundary and Kootenay areas. (Rock Creek to the Alberta border, Golden to the USA border).
Mark Rodgers – Chief Operating Officer for Habitat for Humanity Canada said “The concept of regionalization, or combining affiliates under new models of working together, is an initiative supported nationally by Habitat for Humanity Canada. The idea of realigning and creating larger, more efficient and effective regional affiliates has gained momentum across the country over the past two years, and has now commenced in British Columbia. Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC will be the first ever merger in the Province, and will hopefully draw the ‘blueprint’ for others to follow.”
The Merger Agreement received HFH Canada approval on March 24th, and the two boards of directors merged on May 5th. Completion of the process is expected by September 30th.
Rogers further stated “The leadership and vision being demonstrated by the newly formed Habitat for Humanity Southeast BC affiliate is a clear example of collaboration and partnership at its best. Their willingness to restructure their organizations to better serve families is a remarkable testimony to their personal character and organizational leadership. In my mind, this new regional affiliate will experience a new level of impact and success for years to come, and many deserving families will be the beneficiaries of their outstanding work.”
According to Executive Director Rick Friesen, HFHSEBC has built a combined total of 19 homes, in Greenwood, Grand Forks, Nelson and Castlegar – with a 20th project currently being built in Cranbrook.
Habitat homes are sold at fair market value (a hand up, not a hand out), with an interest free mortgage, and mortgage payments that do not exceed 25 per cent of the homeowner’s income.
Says Friesen; “In addition to building Habitat homes, we are planning to open ReStores in at least three locations. ReStores are Habitat stores that sell donated new and lightly used building products and household goods, and the proceeds from sales will provide long term sustainability for administrative and program costs”.
Cranbrook (currently building a Habitat home as a project of HFHWK) will become the first Chapter in the East Kootenays. Gord Johnston, project leader in Cranbrook, says “Cranbrook’s first Habitat for Humanity build has already started to mobilize a community, with local citizens volunteering to help, and businesses putting together build day teams and offering funds and materials in-kind to support this project”.
A Partner Family has been approved and is honoured to be given the opportunity to own a home, help with the build and volunteer their time to the community. Says Johnston, “This is truly a community project and we are very encouraged by the response to date”.
The chapter model will be offered to all communities in the service area who wish to build Habitat homes. Heather More, Chair of the Creston Valley Housing Society, stated “We’ve been interested in Habitat for Humanity for some time, but our small community size prevented us from moving ahead. The Regional concept allows us to become involved. Our priorities align with those of Habitat for Humanity.
Research tells us that safe sustainable affordable housing is transformational for low-income families, especially improving the lives of children. In fact, we appear to be sharing one of the same slogans – A hand up, not a hand out. The Habitat model of simple housing built using volunteer labour resonates with Creston’s do it yourself culture.”
HFHSEBC Strategic goals for the next five years include ensuring Effective Governance, development of Appropriate Resources, and Growth – increasing the number of homes being built in the Region by developing and supporting new and existing Chapters and build projects.
Inquiries and/or donations can be forwarded to:
Habitat for Humanity SE BC
Rick Friesen, Executive Director
Office: (250) 442-2722 ext. 255
P.O. Box 1088,
Grand Forks BC, V0H 1H0