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Housing project covers costs and creates reserve for future projects

Volunteers and job creation program workers install windows on the new complex located on 72 Avenue; Photo, Mona Mattei
Christmas came early for the fund raising committee of Habitat for Humanity Boundary when they received the news of a $242,000 donation.
 
“We started building when we had $100,000 secured knowing that we need $300,000 to finish the project. This just tops us off,” said Rick Friesen, part-time executive director for Habitat Boundary. “We were pretty much running out of money. We had two to four weeks to go before we ran out of money.”
 
As they worked through the construction of this latest project, a complex that will provide homes for seven adults with disabilities, they thought they would have to stop after getting the units to lock up stage – windows and doors on a shell of a building - explained Friesen.
 
The funding will be given to Habitat Boundary from B.C. Housing Corporation and was the proceeds from the sale of the old Hardy View Lodge facility located next to the Boundary Hospital. When city council got word that the lodge had been sold, Councillor Chris Moslin and Mayor Brian Taylor led the charge to keep the proceeds in the community.
 
“Thanks to council, we wrote a letter, we bird –dogged those monies, we hounded them at UBCM (Union of B.C. Municipalities) we phoned them and phoned them, and well, it happened,” said Moslin. Moslin suggested that a future council may want to set up a reserve for low-cost housing that can help in the future with development and utilities costs as the city is mandated to charge for both construction items and the Habitat project will have to use some of the hard-earned funding to cover off these costs.
 
Since 1997, Habitat Boundary has been constructing affordable homes for low income families.  At the present time they have five homes in Grand Forks, and two in Greenwood.
 
While none of their previously built homes are BuiltGreen™ Certified, they have all been built above current building code requirements particularly in regards to insulation, energy efficiency and low maintenance.  Their desire to make the homes even more affordable led them to consider certification in the Built Green Canada program. 
 
The current project will be their first certified BuiltGreen™ Project.  This is the first time that a Habitat for Humanity affiliate has partnered with single developmentally disabled men (they generally partner with families). 
 
“We’ve generally have three to five volunteers a day, we have four to five of our job creation program people here everyday and our partners anywhere from two to five of them at a time,” explained Friesen.
 
Sunshine Community Services has been providing supervision for the men who will eventually own the units to be able to volunteer in their construction.
 
The project is also unique in that it will provide a first time home ownership model, rather than subsidized rent.  The initial appraisal of the project indicates selling prices of $76,000 to $120,000 for each of the units.  Each unit has been specifically designed to meet the particular needs of the future home owner.  They will pay an interest free mortgage on the fair market value of their units (and a modest strata fee to cover costs of central heating and maintenance of the common area), which will not exceed 30% of their gross income. 
 
One-hundred percent of the funds paid on the mortgages of the units will be put into a revolving fund for Habitat Boundary which is used exclusively for building more homes. The society does separate fund raising to pay administrative costs, Friesen added.

“For us it strengthens our belief that we need to keep working on a relationship with other groups, with other agencies, particularly the city or the other cities in the area,” said Friesen.