Growing solidarity among affordable housing advocates was displayed on Thursday, May 8 as Habitat for Humanity efforts in Boundary (Grand Forks) and West Kootenay (Castlegar/Nelson) announced their merger. The move creates “Habitat for Humanity Southeast British Columbia”, (HFHSEBC) with a service area covering Boundary and Kootenay areas. (Rock Creek to the Alberta border, Golden to the USA border).
“The concept of regionalization, or combining affiliates under new models of working together, is an initiative supported nationally,” says Mark Rodgers, PhD – Chief Operating Officer for Habitat for Humanity Canada.
“The idea of realigning and creating larger, more efficient and effective regional affiliates has gained momentum across the country over the past two years, and has now commenced in British Columbia.”
The creation of the Southeast BC sector – the first ever merger in the province, intends to create the blueprint for other affiliates to follow.
“The concept of regionalization, or combining affiliates,” under new models of working together, is an initiative supported nationally,” Rodgers continued.
The Merger Agreement received HFH Canada approval on March 24, 2014, and the two boards of directors merged on May 5, 2014. Completion of the process is expected by September 30, 2014.
Rodgers touted the “leadership and vision” demonstrated by the new affiliate as a “clear example of collaboration and partnership at its best.”
According to Executive Director Rick Friesen, HFHSEBC has built a combined total of 19 homes, in Greenwood, Grand Forks, Nelson and Castlegar – with a 20th project currently being built in Cranbrook. Habitat homes are sold at fair market value (a hand up, not a hand out), with an interest free mortgage, and mortgage payments that do not exceed 25 per cent of the homeowner’s income. Says Friesen; “In addition to building Habitat homes, we are planning to open ReStores in at least three locations. ReStores are Habitat stores that sell donated new and lightly used building products and household goods, and the proceeds from sales will provide long term sustainability for administrative and program costs.”
Cranbrook (currently building a Habitat home as a project of HFHWK) will become the first Chapter in the East Kootenays. Project leader Gord Johnston says “Cranbrook’s first Habitat for Humanity build has already started to mobilize a community, with local citizens volunteering to help, and businesses putting together build day teams and offering funds and materials in-kind to support this project.” A Partner Family has been approved and is honoured to be given the opportunity to own a home, help with the build and volunteer their time to the community. Says Johnston, “This is truly a community project and we are very encouraged by the response to date.”
Strategic goals of HFHSEBC for the next five years include ensuring Effective Governance, development of Appropriate Resources, and Growth – increasing the number of homes being built in the Region by developing and supporting new and existing Chapters and build projects.