Devin Manning was driving to a carpentry job here on the Sunshine Coast when he got the phone call that would change his life.
“(Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast board chair) Laurie Vance called to give me the news that my family had been accepted for a Habitat home. It was a surreal experience. I drove straight home to tell Danielle (Falardeau, his partner). I guess I got to the job a little late.”
The Manning-Falardeaus are one of two families who moved into their new homes in Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast Village near Wilson Creek in July.
“It’s such a relief,” Manning says. “There is so much less stress. This is helping us be more of a family than anything else has.”
As renters, he says, the family never really felt secure. Real estate prices are soaring due to the short supply of homes here on the coast and many landlords want to take advantage of the boom. Rents are soaring, too, as more and more homes are put on the Airbnb market.
Suddenly, a hard-working family can find itself looking for new accommodation at a time when small, one-bedroom homes are renting for $1,500 per month or more.
Falardeau says she was “overwhelmed” by the transition into her own home at first, but she has settled in as a happy member of the Habitat family.
“I am constantly surprised by generosity of this community,” she says. “Even at the recycling depot” where people donate their refundable beverage containers for the Habitat cause. Danielle volunteers there every Thursday afternoon. “It is good for me mentally. It is a one-hour break for me” from the pressures of being a new mom to baby daughter Amelia.
Manning adds: “Everybody has been smiles and kindness; everybody who volunteers for Habitat, everyone who works there…”
Ken Croizier serves on the HFHSC family selection committee as well as volunteering at the build site. He wants to make sure every family in need has a fair shot at sharing the life-changing Habitat experience of the Manning-Falardeaus.
“I want to get the word out as much as possible that September is application month. I don’t want any families to miss the opportunity to apply,” he says.
The family selection committee is holding two informational meetings for prospective families in September (see details below). These sessions kick off a timetable that will see two more families get Habitat homes next year — the homes you see being framed at Habitat Village right now as you drive past.
Details of the process will be explained at the informational meetings, but the bottom line is this: By December, two more families will be on their way to becoming Habitat homeowners.
Croizier says this will give the families ample time to complete their 500 sweat equity hours before possession in July.
“Don’t be too shy to apply!” Croizier says.
He describes the prospective Habitat family as “a working family who, no matter how hard they work, they can never make a down payment because rents are so high.”
These are exactly the young families we need to stay on the coast to ensure that our communities continue to thrive.
After putting in their sweat equity hours, Habitat families assume mortgage payments that are capped at 25-30 per cent of gross household income.
“For family of three, our income guidelines say they should be making a minimum of $38,000, Croizier says. “If they are paying 30 per cent of this on housing (which includes taxes and insurance), they would be paying $950 per month.
“You would be lucky to find a nice, small three-bedroom home for $2,000 a month on the rental market,” Croizier says.
“There is so much demand for affordable housing on the coast, it’s frustrating that
Habitat can only build two homes per year at present, but we want to keep
doing what we do well,” says , executive director of Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast. “We’re like the turtle; we’re gonna win the race slowly but surely.”
There is a risk in expanding Habitat’s operations too quickly, she adds. “We are a small market; just 30,000 people on the Sunshine Coast. We can’t exhaust our sponsors, volunteers and donors.” But as more Sunshine Coast residents bring their support, Habitat is eager to begin providing a greater number of affordable homes on the Sunshine Coast.
For any prospective Habitat for Humanity families out there, Manning has this message:
“Honestly, just go for it. Don’t doubt your situation. If you work hard at it, it is achievable. (Applying for a Habitat home) is one of the best decisions I have ever made, besides my daughter.”
“Don’t be too shy to apply!”
If you are looking for more information as to what Habitat for Humanity is, how to qualify as a family and what the family expectations are, please join us for our two information sessions. Space is limited so reserve your spot early!
Sechelt: Sept. 10 from 2-4 p.m. at the Sechelt Indian Band Hall behind McDonalds and the ReStore.
Gibsons: Sept. 17 from 2-4 p.m. at Eric Cardinall Hall, 930 Chamberlin Rd.
We will be providing light refreshments and will be taking questions from the public regarding all things Habitat for Humanity Sunshine Coast!
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 604-885-6737.
We hope to see you there!