Volunteers and homeowners that are part of the Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island’s organization gather last summer to celebrate the completion of two new homes in the Nanaimo area. (File photo)

Habitat for Humanity expands into Valley with ReStore, building

Lot already purchased for a duplex

Habitat for Humanity will soon bring their unique style of home ownership to the Cowichan Valley.

The Mid-Vancouver Island branch of the organization has recently purchased a lot on Cowichan Lake Road where it intends to build a duplex that will house two chosen families.

Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island also plans to open a ReStore in downtown Duncan that will operate from the old Griffiths Home Plumbing Centre location.

Executive director Robert Hallam said the Cowichan Valley is currently not being served by Habitat for Humanity, so the organization has decided to place a focus on the region.

“We consider it a strategic move into the Valley,” Hallam said.

“We’re not just coming in to test the waters, and we’re actively looking for other lots in the area in which we can build more Habitat homes.”

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With the help of volunteers and Habitat homeowners, the organization helps build and/or rehabilitate safe, decent and affordable homes for low-income working families.

The homes are not free, however, and while no down payment is required, the chosen partner families are required to pay an interest-free mortgage geared to their income, and volunteer 500 hours of “sweat equity” on Habitat projects.

As Habitat homeowners pay off their mortgage, the funds are invested into a revolving fund, which is used by the local Habitat organization to build more homes.

This model of affordable home ownership is intended to bridge a gap for low-income working families by providing them with the opportunity to purchase their own Habitat home and build a better life.

Hallam said Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island, which has completed 20 builds over 18 years, is just in its preliminary stages of setting up its selection process for families in the Valley.

“It’s an exhaustive application process that goes through many stages,” he said.

“The key variables include that the families must have a sustainable income with a job. Families on welfare are not eligible because they need to be able to qualify for a mortgage.”

Hallam said Habitat’s new ReStore in Duncan is scheduled to open on March 1.

Habitat for Humanity ReStores are nonprofit home-improvement stores and donation centres that sell new and gently used furniture, appliances, home accessories, building materials and more to the public at much less than the retail price.

The proceeds from ReStores are used to help pay for Habitat’s building projects.

“It’s a cheaper way for people to shop, the ReStores help us with our projects and they help divert tonnes of material from landfills every year,” Hallam said.

“We’re looking forward to expanding our services to the Valley.”

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