The B.C. government transferred a piece of Richmond land to the Habitat for Humanity Society of Greater Vancouver in an effort to turn a 25,000-square-foot plot of overgrown weeds and twigs into six affordable new homes.
“It’s about the babies in our community, those who are coming after us,” said Richmond-East MLA Linda Reid, as she stood on the plot at 8180 Ash St. “We’re building a livable community for them.”
The transfer allows six families to become first-time homeowners through the Habitat for Humanity program, which provides safe and affordable housing.
Families invest 500 hours of their own labour (called “sweat equity”) into the building of the home in lieu of a down payment and are financed with affordable, no-interest mortgages.
“We’re offering a helping hand, not a hand out,” said Tim Clark, the society’s interim chief executive officer. “The partner families are empowered through home ownership.”
The City of Richmond is currently working on the permit process, which will hopefully be finished by May or June, according to Reid.
The city would also need to consult the public, particularly surrounding residents.
However, during her own discussions with the public, Reid found feedback to be unwelcome and intolerant — a common reaction from residents, which has halted affordable housing developments in the area in the past.
“We need to do better than that,” said Reid. “It’s too important for Richmond families. It’s about Richmond caring for its own and for its children. Housing is a big part of childcare and we need proper housing.”
To help celebrate the transfer of the land, attendees heard from Lisa Fedorak, a Burnaby resident who has benefited from the help of Habitat for Humanity and is preparing to move into her new home.
Fedorak and her husband have two young daughters, one of who is confined to a wheelchair due to a neurological disorder. Their current home stunts her mobility, as it isn’t wheelchair accessible.
“On the most basic level, I’ve wished for good health and a home, which have been hard,” said Fedorak. “This will enrich our lives in so many ways. I now know what it means to have the hope of a home, and it’s amazing.”