Saturday, September 30, 2017

Habitat for Humanity announces details of Pincher Creek build

C. Davis/T. Lucas - At an open house held the evening of September 28 Habitat for Humanity announced plans to build a duplex in Pincher Creek. Speakers at the event included FCSS Director David Green, Mayor Don Anderberg, and Pincher Creek Elks Lodge #474 spokesman Charlie Price. To help kickstart the project, Pincher Creek Co-op General Manager Jim Peace and Co-op Gas Bar Manager Kari Zieffle presented a donation of $1267.23 raised during a September 19 fundraiser at the gas bar, and Pincher Creek Elks President Rick Clark presented a $500 donation on behalf of that organization. That was followed by a slideshow presentation from Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta Director of Regional Development Louise Gagné (presented above).  Gagné said it was a first for her to start a Habitat campaign with significant donations already in hand.

Pincher Creek Co-op donation
Charlie Price (Elks), Louise Gagné (Habitat for Humanity), Kari Zieffle (Co-op Gas Bar), Jim Peace (Pincher Creek Co-op)

At their regular meeting of July 24 council for the Town of Pincher Creek unanimously voted to approve a memorandum of understanding with Habitat for Humanity and the local Pincher Creek Elks Lodge #474. The Elks are acting as the point organization for the project, which has garnered a lot of interest. Mayor Don Anderberg said, "Virtually every service club in town is going to come on board to help raise funds and work toward a habitat build in Pincher Creek," including the Elks Club, the Royal Canadian Legion, Pincher Creek Lions Club, Pincher Cowley Roaring Lions, Rotary Club of Pincher Creek, and Angels Within Us. Those organizations agreed to accept the fundraising challenge to meet the Habitat community funding criteria of $120,000.00 with the understanding that $80,000 will be in cash and $40,000 gift in kind. Council had previously agreed in-camera to provide Lots 52 and 53, Plan 56905 for the project, two vacant lots at the east end of Dupuy Street, facing Waterton Avenue. The Town's interest is to be registered on the property titles until the builds are complete. Construction of the duplex is anticipated to begin in 2019.

Pincher Creek Elks Donation: Charlie Price, Louise Gagné, Elks President Rick Clark
Each unit will have three bedrooms and 1 and 1/2 bathrooms. Gagné said multiplex units are a preferred build, because building a duplex costs the same as building one house. Cost is roughly estimated at $380,000 (approximately $160 per square foot). Of that amount the community is expected to pitch in the land plus $80,000 and $40,000 worth of Giftss In Kind (GIK). GIK may include labour and donated materials. Habitat's preferred build method is a professional construction management build, anticipated to take four or five months, utilising local trades as much as possible under the direction of a project manager. A "legacy build" by volunteers can take ten to twelve months. Gagné said that often the best ways the community can help is by fundraising and some of the outside build aspects such as fencing and sheds.
From Habit for Humanity slideshow

Gagné outline Habitat's mission and various criteria related to the project and the future homeowners, and spoke of some of Habitat's successes in southern Alberta as well. Habitat is currently in seven southern Alberta communities plus Calgary, and they build an average of 22 'doors' annually. They build a home somewhere in the world every five and a half minutes. Internationally, Habitat for Humanity is "an organization concerned with the basic necessity of housing". In Canada and southern Alberta it is "a non profit organization supporting families through affordable home ownership who meet income and eligibility criteria in 3 areas." Those criteria are a need for housing, an ability to pay the mortgage, and a willingness to partner with Habitat on the build and by committing to 500 volunteer hours.

The families who purchase the homes do so with a no-down-payment, no-interest mortgage. "Families gain the financial stability and flexibility to make positive, forward-looking choices." Their mortgage payments are reinvested into the Habitat program to build more homes for more families. Mortgage payments are geared to income, with flexible terms of 20 to 40 years. When income rises the mortgage is paid off more quickly. No more than 25% of income goes towards shelter, including the mortgage, property tax, condo fees. and utilities.

A Family Recruitment meeting is anticipated to be held in spring/summer of 2018.

"We help families build strength, stability and independence through affordable home ownership."

Gagné applauded Pincher Creek for doing a housing needs assessment (released in October of last year) "that indicates a need for more affordable housing."

From Habit for Humanity slideshow

Gagné also outlined the factors that create housing instability for families, including the poor conditions of some low-rent properties and income issues. "Many families living near the low-income cut-off are living paycheque-to-paycheque despite working multiple jobs to make ends meet. They are often only one emergency away from dire circumstances putting them at risk of being without a home."

Gagné presented some unpalatable statistics: Currently one in five Canadian families face an affordable housing challenge, spending more than half their income on shelter costs.  43% are single parent families, and 95% of those families are headed by women.

"Paying over 30% of one’s income on housing often means families are simply unable to save for their children’s education or afford extra-curricular activities. They may even have to make the unthinkable choice of choosing between rent and food one month. Saving for a down payment on a home is simply out of the question."

"There is research on the impact of housing instability on children. A variety of childhood issues and even delayed problems in adolescence and early adulthood are prevalent."

From Habit for Humanity slideshow

"When kids move frequently their school performance suffers, they may have language development issues, learning impairments and poor overall childhood development. The impact is particularly challenging for kids if the moves happen before Grade 3. Housing instability also leads to a risk of school dropouts and it can even affect success in adulthood."
"Many parents dig in and stay in inappropriate or unsafe conditions so that their kids may have some sense of normalcy by having a consistent school and being able to maintain friendships. Unfortunately, this can lead to an existence where there is a chronic level of stress in the child. Emerging research links this kind of toxic stress to poor brain development and an inappropriate stress response. Children in these environments are at risk of being in a chronic state of fight or flight."

From Habit for Humanity slideshow

Needs criteria for potential Habitat for Humanity homeowners:
  • Must have children that will benefit from a simple, affordable home
  • Paying more than 30% of income on rent
  • Unsafe, overcrowded living conditions
  • Ability to Pay
  • Applicant must be employed full-time or equivalent to full-time
  • Must be a permanent resident or Canadian citizen and have lived in the application area for at least two years
  • Must meet the income criteria: $37,5000- $54,000 annually
  • Good credit/little debt
  • Willingness to Partner
  • Complete 500 volunteer hours
  • Be a champion for Habitat
  • Build relationships with volunteers, donors, staff, community members and neighbours
If you have money to donate or fundraising ideas, Pincher Creek's service clubs want to hear from you.

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