Adyam Autosham was the first to pull out her cell phone and start snapping pictures as a construction crane and small army of workers lowered the 600-square-foot second floor of her home into place on a cloudy Wednesday morning last week.
For the 56-year-old mother of three, it’s one step closer to owning her first house since moving from Saudi Arabia to Canada with her family four years ago.
"I’m excited, it’s almost finished," said Autosham, who lives in a two-bedroom apartment in Osborne Village along with her husband and kids.
"This chance is too big for me. I want to relax with my family."
Autosham’s family is one of 10 expected to take up residence in Riverbend when Habitat for Humanity finishes building 10 new side-by-sides along Fernbank Avenue at Main Street later this fall. More than 100 volunteers from across the city were at the site last week taking part in a six-day building blitz that wrapped up on July 13.
"The roofs will happen over the next few months. The plan is to have families in by Christmas," said Vern Koop, Habitat’s director of construction.
The new homes add to the 10 Habitat has built at the site — "dead land" for years, according to Koop — last year for low income families under its business model, which requires no down payment and provides interest-free mortgages and payments geared to family income.
Habitat partner families are required to contribute 350 to 500 hours of sweat equity, assisting with construction of Habitat homes or working at the organization’s office or ReStore outlet in St. Boniface.
However, the build hasn’t come without a hit to the bottom line, said Koop.
Since Habitat started the development — over which 70 area residents appeared at a public hearing in 2011 to voice their concerns — more than $1,000 worth of tools and up to $3,000 of lumber has been stolen from the site, Koop said.
"Do I notice it today that I can’t do any more work? No. But, it’s the whole idea of stealing from a non-profit," said Koop, noting it’s the most theft Habitat has seen at any of its developments across the city.
"Every dollar we spend we have to raise. It’s a constant educational thing."
It takes months to plan a building blitz and arrange for the manpower to build several homes in a matter of days from a foundation to a fully enclosed home.
"A volunteer always comes here because he wants to work," said Koop.
"If you don’t have volunteers, you don’t have Habitat."