Habitat for Humanity is back in Brandon — and the re-established local chapter has a goal of building two homes per year, beginning in 2014.
Rick Wells, the new chair of the chapter, made a presentation to Brandon City Council on Monday night.
"As a group, we are eager to re-establish the presence of Habitat in Brandon and get on with … building cost-effective, affordable housing," Wells said.
Members of the local chapter’s steering committee were also in attendance.
"Right now, we’re in the process of developing a business plan, a strategy for land acquisition, developing community partnerships and looking for a potential location for a ReStore," Wells said.
The primary goal is to begin the first two builds in 2014, to be completed for occupancy by 2015.
"Our vision beyond that is to have two builds per year that will accommodate two to four families depending on the type of build," Wells said.
The local chapter has been in discussion with Assiniboine Community College regarding a potential partnership that would see ACC incorporate a ready-to-move build each year as part of the trades curriculum.
The other home would be a typical Habitat for Humanity build, bringing out community volunteers to complete the goal.
In the summer of 2012, after 17 years in operation, the HFH Brandon office was closed. The decision to disaffiliate the local chapter came from the organization’s national office, which cited that "minimum operating standards were not being met."
A Habitat Canada spokesperson said at the time there were a number of issues behind the scenes, including governance, administration and how to support the families.
The closure of the local chapter left several local families, who believed they were in line for one of 14 condominium units at Massey Manor, out of luck — something that angered many Brandon volunteers associated with the organization.
Last March, Manitoba Housing and Renewal Corp. (MHRC) took ownership of the fourth floor of Massey Manor. MHRC paid $1.5 million for the 14 units.
In the 17 years the HFH Brandon office was in operation, 22 homes were built.
Wells said he was eager to get a chapter re-established in Brandon and found many other community members felt the same way.
"Over the years, I’ve been a supporter of Habitat for Humanity both here and in Ontario, and when we moved back here, it was my intention to somehow do whatever I could to help out," he said. "I found out that there were a number of people who wanted to see Habitat re-establish in Brandon, so people are quite excited about it. We’re quite excited about being the solution to that problem."
Habitat for Humanity Canada began in 1985. The organization builds affordable homes for low-income families, helping to break the cycle of poverty.