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Thread: A Habitat for Humanity in Edmonton

  1. #1
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    Default A Habitat for Humanity in Edmonton

    Standing in line at my local grocery store is a privilege for me. That’s because I can afford to buy whatever food I want, and so the wait doesn’t bother me. But there are many Edmontonians who do not enjoy this same privilege. There are thousands of hardworking mothers and fathers in our city who thumb through apples and oranges at the grocery store and wonder if they can afford to buy them. Every month they’re faced with the decision of whether to buy groceries for their family or pay the rent. How have they found themselves in this predicament? Their hand has been forced by Edmonton’s affordable housing crisis.

    The face of poverty has been changing over the years and is now much broader than some Edmontonians realize. Poverty has branched beyond homelessness and has sunk its roots into working class families. These families aren’t frivolous; they aren’t lazy; these families simply cannot make ends meet on their modest incomes. More and more Edmontonians are paying up to and beyond 50 per cent of their income towards a safe, warm place to live. Their remaining funds are spent on transportation, clothing, food, and utilities—often they cannot even afford these basic necessities.

    Can this cycle be broken?

    I’m the President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton (HfH--E), a local affiliate of a world-wide faith-based organization whose vision is for a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. Our mission is to mobilize volunteers and community partners in building affordable housing and promoting homeownership as a means to breaking the cycle of poverty. We have committed to significantly increasing the number of homes we build annually in Edmonton and surrounding area in an effort to do all we can to address the affordable housing issue. Edmontonians have risen to the challenge and are working with us in ever increasing numbers on our build sites; the media have assisted by spreading the word about our work and the amazing impact homeownership has on families; and generous donors, big and small, have helped provide the funding required to build the homes.

    It’s a privilege to lead an organization that has been working to break the cycle of poverty in Edmonton since 1991. This spring we will hand over keys to the 100th family we have served in Edmonton and area. When these families become homeowners with an interest-free mortgage, they no longer have to choose between groceries and rent, or winter boots and rent. In essence, we’re building more than just four walls and a roof; with the help of people just like you, we are building hope.

    With this in mind we humbly plug away at building affordable housing and raising awareness of the affordable housing issue in Edmonton. We’ve grown from a small group who built one house per year into a thriving organization that built 21 homes in 2008 and has even higher aims for the future. This year we plan to build 38 homes in Edmonton and area, and the Habitat arm will reach out to Sherwood Park, Stony Plain and St. Albert while continuing to build in Edmonton.

    The affordable housing issue is not just a problem for our government, churches, and non-profit organizations. It is a shared societal problem that can only be reversed when we as individuals all take ownership of the problem and pool our resources together. We all have a vital part to play in Edmonton’s future. If we all take this role seriously, families will no longer be forced to decide between buying groceries or paying rent—they will move on to decisions about planning for their children’s education and where they should donate their time and money. Families will have the privilege of waiting patiently and happily in line at the grocery store knowing that they have a bright future ahead of them.

    Alfred Nikolai

    President and CEO

    Habitat for Humanity Edmonton


    Habitat for Humanity Edmonton is a growing organization looking for community partners and volunteers to help low-income families in Edmonton and area break free from the cycle of poverty. To donate or apply to volunteer, please visit www.hfh.org. For more information please call us at 780.479.3566.

  2. #2

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    Thank you for such a caring and insightful article.

  3. #3
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    Thank you very much Alfred for taking the time to write in on this powerful subject.

    I do have a question for you, and I understand completely if you cannot answer.

    Does HfH-E find community opposition to their projects increasing or decreasing? I am sure this varies by neighborhood, but I am often perplexed at this opposition and I don't understand all the rationale behind anyone opposing an HfH development.
    President and CEO - Airshow.

  4. #4

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    Excellent article for a very worthwhile cause and well done all the volunteers.
    We are all the same, just different...

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by RichardS View Post
    Thank you very much Alfred for taking the time to write in on this powerful subject.

    I do have a question for you, and I understand completely if you cannot answer.

    Does HfH-E find community opposition to their projects increasing or decreasing? I am sure this varies by neighborhood, but I am often perplexed at this opposition and I don't understand all the rationale behind anyone opposing an HfH development.
    Richard, I was curious about this, too. I was particularly dismayed when Coun. Ed Gibbons spoke against a project in his ward a few years back.

    I assumed most people knew about the great work Habitat for Humanity does, but perhaps they need to focus on some public education.

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    ^ Ed Gibbons was specifically concerned about the concentration of HFH & EHTF projects within a small area of the city.

    These projects need to be spread out to all areas of the city, not just the areas where land is cheap.

    HFH does some great work, but several of their past projects would never have been allowed in, say, Old Strathcona... so they go in Alberta Avenue.

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    These projects need to be spread out to all areas of the city, not just the areas where land is cheap.
    Ideally, yes. But HfH is a non-profit organization that relies on volunteer work and donations. I'm sure that cheap land allows them to do more with the resources they have.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by 240GLT View Post
    ^ Ed Gibbons was specifically concerned about the concentration of HFH & EHTF projects within a small area of the city.

    These projects need to be spread out to all areas of the city, not just the areas where land is cheap.

    HFH does some great work, but several of their past projects would never have been allowed in, say, Old Strathcona... so they go in Alberta Avenue.
    There was also concern about the layout of that particular project, as the homes don't face the street the way everything else there does. I suppose it's an effect of HFH's ever bigger projects. Older projects tended to be SFHs or duplexes that face the street. they fit fairly well into any neighbourhood. This one is bigger, and with cost of land there is pressure to fit more homes on the parcel while keeping costs low and homes affordable.

    I don't really like that particular plan either, simply from a community design/urbanist perspective. From a social development/economic opportunity perspective that project should be just as good as the others.

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