The Brandon chapter of Habitat for Humanity is currently on the lookout for five local families they can partner with throughout this year and next.
While Habitat usually helps, on average, two families find affordable housing in Brandon per year, community engagement manager Bonnie Mills admits they are having some trouble finding applicants right now.
Mills partially attributes this difficulty to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has exacerbated the financial difficulties that prospective partner families are currently dealing with.
"But we’re very understanding that 2020 was not a normal year," she said. "We don’t want those hard times to be a deterrent for them."
As such, Habitat vice-president of marketing Michelle Pereira is trying to get the word out about how this program is designed for working-class families of modest means, telling the Sun over the phone that the monthly payments associated with a Habitat house aren’t much different from what one would pay living under Manitoba Housing.
"So if they can pay rent to Manitoba Housing every month and be fine in managing their finances as well, they will be the perfect Habitat family," she said.
Additionally, Pereira said the financial advantages of signing up for a Habitat house are plentiful, with the partner families entering into a no-down-payment, no-interest, renewable 15-year mortgage with the non-profit organization.
Mortgage payments are calculated annually, which means families never pay more than 27 per cent of household income on shelter costs.
Add on to that the fact that Habitat homes are built to be energy-efficient, meaning lower hydro bills every month, and Pereira said each new partner family will be establishing a solid financial foundation for their children moving forward.
"Kids who live in a Habitat house tend to go on and get some kind of post-secondary education," she said. "So whether it’s college or university, they tend to do better because they are in a stable home."
In order to become a Habitat partner family, Pereira specified that successful applicants must demonstrate that they have a regular source of income, good credit and children to take care of.
Successful partner families are also required to complete 500 hours of "sweat equity" before receiving their keys, which involves helping build Habitat homes or other volunteering pursuits, such as lending a hand in the non-profit’s ReStores.
Mills recently got the opportunity to witness the end result of one family’s hard work, taking part in Habitat Brandon’s first virtual key ceremony earlier this year.
"Everyone got to see them enter for the first time and view the home from their perspective," she said. "So it was really nice."
If a local family decides to sign up right now, Mills estimates they may be able to enter their Habitat home by February 2022 at the earliest, although sometime in the spring of next year is probably a more realistic timeframe for receiving their keys.
Anyone looking for more information about how to kick-start this application process can contact Mills at 204-717-0602 or email@example.com.
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