Habitat for Humanity Manitoba is hoping a local community group will become a poster child to help build homes across the city as part of a new initiative.
Habitat Chez Soi has spearheaded a committee that has garnered community sponsors and donations and acquired volunteers to work with Habitat crews to build a home on Essex Avenue in St. Vital.
Most of the structural work on the five-bedroom house — intended for Alice and Samuel the couple’s four children — is set for completion on Aug. 3, having begun on July 23.
The move is part of Habitat’s new Neighbourhood Community Initiatives program, which is designed to explore more opportunities to build homes across the city by calling on community members to form their own committees to secure funding and manpower.
Linda Peters, Habitat’s vice-president of program delivery, said the role of HCS shows how groups can work together to build communities.
"They are the poster child of what we would like our neighbourhood builds to look like. Up until now, we, at the affiliate level (with Habitat for Humanity Canada), have built in Winnipeg wherever we could find land, and then we would find a family that wanted to live in that particular neighbourhood," said Peters, who lives in south St. Vital.
Habitat makes sure the families qualify for a home — "it’s full disclosure, they open their lives to us" —and do their 500 hours of sweat equity. Sponsors pay for the building costs, while Habitat manages the interest-free mortgage.
The south St. Vital resident stressed Habitat does not give away free houses and "we’re not helping reduce poverty."
"Our goal is to provide safe, decent, affordable housing for hardworking, low income families just below the mortgage line. Our homes are the most energy-efficient in Manitoba," Peters said.
Coun. Dan Vandal (St. Boniface) said the initiative shows how volunteer spirit can help build communities.
"It is clear to me that these types of projects not only help build affordable housing for families in need, but also reinforce a sense of pride and accomplishment for the entire community of volunteers who participate," he said.
Peters said by the end of 2012, HFHM will have built more than 250 homes in the past 25 years, which includes houses in Elmwood, St. James-Assiniboia and West Kildonan.
For more information, visit www.habitat.mb.ca.