Conceptual drawing for Habitat for Humanity project in Vernon. Image Credit: Contributed

Providing affordable housing

Habitat for Humanity wants to help more low-income families.

Affordable housing is an issue for all communities across the Central Okanagan.

Which is partly why the Okanagan chapter of Habitat for Humanity spoke to Lake Country council Tuesday abut the efforts of her organization.

Deb Guthrie, executive director, said the chapter has taken on affordable housing projects in Kelowna, Peachland and Vernon, but has yet to find a site for a project in Lake Country.

“Our goal for the next five years is to see another 30 families housed,” said Guthrie, noting they would welcome some of that objective being met in Lake Country.

“We have approached municipal staff about the possibility in the last year but it’s a matter of finding the right situation,” Guthrie said.

“It starts with finding the land to build and that is always a challenge.”

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit house building organization started in 1976 in southern Georgia long supported by former U.S. president Jimmy Carter that has become international in scope.

Through volunteer labour, efficient management and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates housing with the help of homeowner partner families.

The homes are sold to partner families with no cash down payment requirement and financed with no-interest mortgages based on actual income. As part of the partnership, selected tenant families invest “sweat equity’ in each project.

Since starting in 1993, the Okanagan chapter has provided housing for 34 families.

The chapter just completed a three-duplex project in Peachland on donated land and renovated the site’s food bank building as part of the deal.

Guthrie said the establishment of two ReStores in the Central Okanagan, a fundraiser vehicle for Habitat, in West Kelowna and Kelowna has also been an enormous benefit.

“Across Canada, our ReStore in Kelowna is eighth in sales while our West Kelowna location is eleventh,” Guthrie noted.

She said providing affordable housing is a hallmark of a strong and stable community, noting that each completed project offers a life-changing opportunity for families.

“One of our Peachland tenants, a family with three children, had previously moved 13 times over 11 years,” she said.

“What we do provides a foundation of hope for families.”