The need for Habitat for Humanity homes is increasing across the Central Alberta region, but more homes are on the way in Lacombe, officials say. Discussions for additional projects in the area are also ongoing.
Habitat for Humanity Red Deer Region Society is part of an international, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting home ownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty. Organizers and volunteers build homes in Red Deer and the surrounding areas and offer them to select low-income working families through a no-down-payment, interest-free mortgage program.
Habitat for Humanity Red Deer Region Society was founded in 1994 and has since built 29 homes and continues to increase this number annually, according to the web site.
“With the increase in the number of requests that we’ve had for housing since the downturn, we’ve tried to increase the number of homes that we are making available to Habitat families each year,” said Brian Brake, executive director of the Habitat for Humanity Red Deer Region. “We keep looking for more and more product to put in the ReStore, and of course 100 per cent of every donation that we receive in cash goes into our building fund,” he added. “So it’s a very lean organization, and we try to maximize every dollar that is given to us by going out and getting people to provide us with in-kind donations, services and materials as well,” he said.
“In the last year, we’ve been able to assign 11 homes to Habitat families and we are very proud of that,” he said. “We are negotiating with three or four communities right now on future builds.
“We are also bringing the Jimmy Carter build to Lacombe. That’s a nation-wide project that was just announced on the third of October.”
For more than 30 years, President and Mrs. Carter have helped Habitat for Humanity improve and build homes in the United States and around the world. The Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project aims to raise awareness of the critical need for decent and affordable housing. The event also attracts volunteers from around the world.
“It was announced that Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn will be coming to Canada next year for what is called the Carter build. This is a project that is assigned out to one of 72 countries where Habitat exists. It’s been assigned to Canada next year, in celebration of our 150th birthday,” said Brake. “So what Habitat Canada is doing is putting together a project of 150 new homes from across the country that will become a part of the Carter build.
“I submitted an application for the four homes we are just starting to build in Lacombe as a part of that national build,” he said, adding the foundations were put in two weeks ago and the framing is currently underway. Of the homes to be built in Canada, about 100 will be built in Alberta including 75 in the Edmonton area and about 22 in Calgary.
“It’s wonderful news,” said Brake. “Jimmy Carter is coming to Alberta on the 10th of July next year,” he added. “He and his wife will be part of the build that is going on in Edmonton. And then they will move onto Winnipeg where they will be part of a build of 25 homes there.
“We go out and try and bring in donations for each of our builds,” said Brake. “We’ve been very fortunate with the Lacombe build because the City of Lacombe gave us $480,000 which covered the land, and one-third of the construction costs.”
Several other business and community organizations have also stepped up to lend a financial helping hand.
“Our job here is to make sure that once we’ve tapped ourselves out for donations for that particular build, we are able to take the proceeds of our ReStore and top it up to cover the final costs for the houses.
“We can’t afford to carry any debt on these homes.”
Meanwhile, the organization is able to exist and thrive in the Central Alberta community because of dedicated volunteers, donors and sponsors. “Community involvement is the very heart and soul of our organization and we thank every person involved in supporting our mission. People are our greatest resource.
“I want to thank everybody who has been supporting us. As we stand right now, we have donations that we have received here over the last six months have allowed us to proceed knowing that the funding is now in place to complete our current project in Lacombe, and we are looking forward to initiating another project with either Innisfail, Red Deer or Stettler in the near term.
“I’ve been talking with the Mayor of Red Deer (Tara Veer), and she told me she’s working on trying to get something put together,” he added.
Volunteer shifts are currently available in many positions such as administration, construction, board of directors, and the ReStore. Monetary donations help us afford the supplies necessary to construct more homes around the Red Deer area.
Sponsorship from local and national partners is also incredibly valued and appreciated.