Today is National Housing Day and Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North (VIN) recognizes the profound impact that Canada’s affordable housing crisis is having in our community, and how Habitat’s model of affordable homeownership is an important part of the solution.
According to recently released results from the 2016 census, one in four Canadians spend 30% or more of their income on housing costs. Spending more than 30%, according to some housing advocates, puts people at an increased risk of homelessness. On Northern Vancouver Island, a lack of decent and affordable housing options has meant that people in our communities are struggling to make ends meet, often while living in sub-standard housing.
“At Habitat we work daily to build more homes for local families in need of a safe and affordable place to live. Every home that we sell ensures another home is freed up to the overall housing continuum,” said Pat McKenna, Executive Director for Habitat VIN. “We recently completed the first two of 11 units in Campbell River, and in 2018 we plan to begin phase one of our 10-unit build on Lake Trail Road in Courtenay.”
Based on a partnership between the family, the community, volunteers and the private sector, Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help build strength, stability and independence through affordable homeownership. Habitat’s model bridges an important gap in the housing continuum. On one side of this continuum is social housing and rental housing, and on the other side is market homeownership. Habitat for Humanity bridges that gap, providing an opportunity for families that would otherwise have no chance at homeownership. Habitat does not give away free homes – Habitat homeowners pay for their homes, through an affordable mortgage that is never more than 30 percent of their income. By providing families with access to affordable homeownership, Habitat is an important part of the solution to Canada’s housing crisis.
Every Habitat home built creates a social return on investment of $175,000 for the local community. Research has shown that Habitat families are happier, healthier and rely less on food banks and other social services. Access to safe and decent housing also helps build a strong and stable foundation for a better future – children who grow up in a Habitat home do better in school and are more likely to pursue a post-secondary education.
“As we mark another National Housing Day, we are renewing our commitment to this community that we will continue to work toward a world where everyone has a decent place to live. Habitat’s model of affordable homeownership helps low-income families purchase a home. But to make this vision a reality, every level of government needs to invest in a variety of housing solutions. It will also require the continued support of the community, corporations and other non-profit organizations to make access to decent and affordable housing a reality not just for some, but for all,” added McKenna.