A local Habitat for Humanity project is nearing completion after nearly two years of hard work from the community.
Together with community partners and volunteer services, a triplex building will soon be home to three families. The project began in March of 2012 and is expected to be ready to welcome the new residents some time next month.
“We have three families scheduled for that triplex and they have been waiting for about a year now. Each family works 500 hours towards the build for home-ownership, and all of the families have worked off their hours,” said Habitat for Humanity board member Dennis Bowness.
“We are anticipating – and hoping for – the building to be done by February 15th, but we’re thinking of having the home dedication at the end of February. The doors, window frames and baseboards are in and we’re now working on flooring and cabinets.”
Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit agency so the majority of their work force is made up of volunteers. Last March, the federal government approached Habitat Red Deer and created a crew of inmates from Bowden Institution to help with tasks such as framing and pouring the concrete basement foundation. When a federal budget cut hit, the work force was put on hold, causing a delay in the building process.
“When working with the federal government, there are always budget restraints, so Bowden had to stop the process for a while. They essentially got us to the windows and doors stage. However, they have re-contacted us and would like to help us finish this project,” Bowness said.
Aside from the assistance of the Bowden Institute, local organizations such as Lafarge Canada Inc., the Royal Bank, Bruins Plumbing and Studon Electric have stepped up to offer services, funding and manpower to complete the building.
“Bruins Plumbing, right from day one was approached and they stepped forward to get all of our plumbing permits settled. They have been excellent to deal with. Studon actually paid for all of our permitting on the project, and supplied a journeyman electrician to assist us. Those groups have taken our project quite a ways.”
The home is not given away for free. It is designated to a family who goes through a multi-step application process with the intention that the family will pay off the home without interest. The homes are constructed out of recycled and donated materials to enable the house to be built with less cost, which in turn creates additional savings for the new homeowners.
“We are a non-profit. It’s not like we’re building these homes for a profit from these people. We take as much donation as possible, and the more donations we receive, the cheaper we can build the homes, and the faster these people move into these homes,” Bowness said.
“Anything we can get as far as labour or materials or time – we’ve had people just bring in Tim Hortons coffee and donuts – that is all fantastic. Every little bit adds up and it sure helps.”
One new homeowner, Michelle Baszylinski, said that she is excited to be able to move into her new home, and is looking forward to the new opportunities it will bring her family.
“This is exciting, even though it’s been a really long process. This means an interest-free mortgage for us, which will open a lot of other opportunities. We will get two bathrooms and a dishwasher, which is nice. I’ve been in the same place for almost 14 years, so I’m excited to do something new,” Bazylinski said.
“The process is very long and we do a lot of work for it. It is not a free house like some people think. It’s interest-free, which is a huge savings, but still a difference than free.”
As a full time employee, it took Bazylinski nearly a year of volunteering each weekend to work off her 500 volunteer hours. She said that although it was difficult, some of the process was fun.
Before the volunteer hours begin, applicants must go through a rigorous screening process that involves information sessions, selection committees and more. The volunteer hours required for the recipients of the homes can be completed on site at the build, or by volunteering in the Red Deer Habitat ReStore.
“We are privileged in Canada, but because of our high cost of living and expensive homes, it is still hard for people to have affordable home ownership. I think that the families that we’re helping, it may not seem like many, but it is a huge movement from them to go from a rental into home ownership. I think that the families that we are helping benefit and it will allow them to grow their families and lessen some of the stress that they go through,” Bowness said.
He continued, “It doesn’t matter how much money people have, they are still nice, good people. It doesn’t matter what part of the country you are in, quality of life is very important.”
Habitat Red Deer has completed 26 home projects in the area since the organization opened its regional doors in 1994.