Everyone wants a home to call their own. Providing homeless individuals and low income families with a roof and four walls is the mission of Habitat for Humanity, both globally and here at home.
The Southern Alberta Foothills division of Habitat for Humanity is on the brink of reaching a new milestone and is one of seven local charities that will receive funding from the annual Western Wheel Cares campaign. This is a fundraising drive initiated every year by the weekly newspaper in Okotoks.
With a boost from this campaign, Habitat for Humanity is about to reach its goal.
The chairperson for the Southern Alberta Foothills chapter, Marilyn Boake, says the organization has been looking for suitable land upon which to build a home. The months-long search has been difficult according to Boake because unlike other areas in the country, land in the Foothills region isn’t owned by the municipality. It’s owned by private interests. The land has to be either free as a donation or priced within reason. By keeping the cost of the land to a minimum, funds raised by Habitat will go further in the actual construction of a home. Again, Habitat works diligently to get as many construction materials donated. Labour is usually provided by volunteers, both skilled and unskilled and the future homeowner themselves.
Boake believes that once the Western Wheel campaign is over, the top-up in their bank account will be sufficient to finally acquire the lot for the home.
Once the lot or land is acquired, Habitat for Humanity selects a deserving family that will eventually occupy the home. At that point, based on family needs, the organization can decide the scope of the project and the type and volume of materials required.
What is Habitat for Humanity
The Habitat for Humanity organization was started 40 years ago in the U.S. by a husband/wife team who thought that everyone should have access to a safe and affordable home. The concept they came up with is referred to partnership housing, where those individuals that would be the beneficiaries of a new home would work to build a simple, decent home with willing volunteers. There is no profit to be had, no interest changed on any loans provided and any hard costs would come out of a revolving fund which is referred to The Fund for Humanity. Money in the fund is gathered from house payments that new owners might make, loans from Habitat for Humanity supporters and any and all fundraising initiatives. This fund perpetuates itself when more homes are built.
Habitat Homes in Okotoks
The Foothills chapter of Habitat was founded in 2012. It would be another three years until the first structure was built and ready for occupancy – a duplex home in High River which is occupied by two families. There was a total of 270 volunteers from the Okotoks area and many local companies provided gift-in-kind labour and materials.
The homes are provided to the families, but not simply given. Families must work at least 500 hours on their future home. The houses are sold to the families who take full ownership and title. There’s no down payment required, which is often the stumbling block when purchasing a home, and there is a mortgage but there is not interest charged and payments are appropriate to the family’s financial circumstances.
The money they pay every month goes back into the fund.
How to Help
Those interested in supporting the Western Wheel campaign can contact the paper’s office. A tax receipt will be provided.
There are seven local charities in the Okotoks region that will benefit from this annual holiday drive.