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Habitat for Humanity looks to create affiliate in south-east B.C.

As work is set to begin on Cranbrook's first Habitat for Humanity home, the organization is prepared to create a local affiliate.

Gord Johnston, leader of Habitat's first Cranbrook build, spoke to the Regional District of East Kootenay board of directors about the plans on Friday, March 7.

Two years in the making, construction of the Habitat for Humanity single family home in Slaterville is poised to begin.

It's being built by a Cranbrook chapter of Habitat for Humanity West Kootenay, Johnston explained.

“Each community that wants to build a home would have to convince Habitat West Kootenay or Habitat Boundary to take them on and take the responsibility of the Habitat build. It’s a huge responsibility and it’s difficult to convince people to take us on. We are very fortunate that Habitat West Kootenay agreed to take Cranbrook on.”

But the process will be much simpler after September, when several Habitat affiliates will unite to form one big group: Habitat for Humanity Southeast B.C.

“That will give all of your communities an opportunity to have Habitat come to your municipalities in chapter form,” Johnston told the directors.

“We will have people who come into the community to support your community group to get your Habitat build up and successful and get low income families into homes.”

Right now, there are chapters in Nelson, Castlegar, Boundary (Grand Forks) and Cranbrook. A new chapter is being formed in Creston. They would unite into one group that could build Habitat homes in the East Kootenay much easier than presently.

“We really are not represented in the East Kootenay whatsoever. Cranbrook will be the first. So we’re really hoping that some other the communities could really benefit from this, like Kimberley, Elkford, Sparwood, Fernie, where it may be more difficult to find affordable property.”

Habitat for Humanity is a worldwide non-profit organization that builds homes using donated land, materials and labour.

“We are trying to break the cycle of poverty,” said Johnston. “We believe in providing affordable housing to low income families and families in need. We make it possible by building homes using volunteers, donated materials and funds raised in the individual communities that we build in.”

Habitat then offers the home to a low-income family who otherwise would not be able to afford to buy a home. In exchange for promising 500 hours of sweat equity on building their home and others in the community, the new homeowner gets an interest free, no down payment mortgage on the home.

“We reinvest all of the mortgage payments they make into building new homes. That perpetuates the next build in the community,” said Johnston.

The creation of Habitat for Humanity Southeast B.C. in September may also lead to the creation of a Re-Store in Cranbrook.

That’s a building supply store run by Habitat that sells donated materials to the public at lower costs.

“The Re-Stores sell used and new building supplies that are donated from people like Home Depot, for instance. Our Home Depot sends all of their materials that they don’t use to Habitat Kamloops. Well, gosh, it would be great if we had a Re-Store here,” said Johnston.

Once the regional group is created, a Re-Store will be founded in Cranbrook.

“Cranbrook is the largest community; Cranbrook’s probably the best fit for a Re-Store within the southeast portion of B.C.,” said Johnston. “We are already looking at property in Cranbrook to get a Re-Store going. We will probably start looking seriously at getting that open in September and I would say it would probably be open by spring 2015.”

Money raised through the Re-Store would go back into building more Habitat homes in the region, he said.

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