MUSKOKA - Having just cut the ribbon on its latest build, Habitat for Humanity Muskoka is now seeking applications for its next project.
PENNIES FOR HABITAT..
Lynn Jennings of Habitat for Humanity Bracebridge demonstrates how you can drop your pennies "down the drain" in the sink at the front counter to help support a new Habitat build on Saturday, Feb. 9.
Photo by Bev McMullen
It was only just a couple of weeks ago the 12th and 13th unit Habitat unit opened in Huntsville and in February of 2012 is was two units in Gravenhurst that welcomed in their families. Building homes for the less fortunate locally since 2002, applications are now open for the organization’s next two units which are destined for property on Wellington Street in Bracebridge.
Habitat Muskoka’s executive director Ellen Frood said applications are open to all residents of the Muskoka region and it will be a duplex unit so two families are being sought.
“Sadly, low-income families, when they contribute too much of their income to housing, there’s just no room for other bills and things like groceries,” Frood explained. “So we see building a home as building community and we’re working to break the cycle of poverty.”
Habitat for Humanity Muskoka provides help to those who may not otherwise be able to experience the joys and responsibilities of home ownership. Lead by Habitat organizers, volunteers, community partners and sponsors rally to build affordable housing and promote private home ownership for those who couldn’t afford owning a home without the assistance.
Frood explained Habitat acts as a bank, providing an interest free mortgage based on fair market values. The mortgage must be paid back, but without interest and calculated to be about 25 per cent of the household’s income, ownership becomes far more attainable for families living on the financial edge, Frood said. Successful applicants must be willing to provide 500 hours of “sweat equity” by volunteering to help build the home or taking part in other Habitat projects and programs.
“A lot of times people don’t apply because they think they won’t qualify; we tell them to try because the criteria probably isn’t as stringent as a lot of people think,” she said.
She explained, for example, that a single-parent family with one child is able to earn up to $32,000 a year and still be eligible. Meanwhile, as another example, a two-parent family with four children could still be earning upwards of $63,000 annually and still be eligible.
“There has to be a need and that need can be defined by a lot of things,” she added, saying that could include needing housing designed for special needs, living in unsafe or unhealthy conditions and, of course, the financial need.
In order to help fund some of the next build, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore is hosting a penny drive for the next little while. People are asked to throw their now-defunct pennies into a sink display set up at the store.
“But of course, we’ll take any kind of change, it all fits down the sink drain,” Frood said.
The organization is also looking to replenish its army of volunteers and is asking anyone who may have time and a little house-building/renovating experience to contact them as well.
Construction will begin on the Bracebridge duplex later this spring in the hopes the accepted families will be moving in come early next New Year. The window for applications is now open and Frood said she can help people through the application process. If anyone would like to apply, volunteer or get more information about Habitat for Humanity Muskoka, contact Frood at 705-646-0106 (ext. 6) or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.