Habitat celebrating firsts
Housing project for seniors is Habitat for Humanity’s most ambitious project
Habitat for Humanity SarniaLambton is set to celebrate “a whole bunch of firsts” Thursday, says CEO Sarah Reaume.
Supporters and volunteers have been invited to a 5:30 p.m. ceremony at which keys will be turned over to residents of five new affordable seniors units Habitat for Humanity built on Guthrie Drive East in Sarnia.
“It’s the first time we’ve built a project this ambitious,” Reaume said.
It’s also the first time a Habitat for Humanity group in Canada has built housing specifically for seniors, she added.
“It’s really exciting to be at the other end of this when, not so many months ago, it was a daunting prospect.”
Habitat bought the land on Guthrie Drive East in 2004. It had been the site of a welding shop and had to be environmentally remediated and then rezoned and serviced.
“We were finding some challenges in how best to develop that land,” Reaume said.
And then, Lambton County released a long-term housing plan identifying seniors as a local population in need of affordable options.
“We felt this is something we could help with,” Reaume said.
Habitat for Humanity has been building affordable homes in Sarnia-Lambton since 1994 and came up with a way to “tweak” what it usually does to make a project for seniors possible.
Monthly payments from the five households will include mortgage, taxes and maintenance costs, but the mortgage portion will be returned to residents when they move out.
Reaume said the aim of the project is to provide “safe, decent, affordable, appropriate housing for the latter years of their life.”
Habitat will cut the grass, shovel snow and maintain the outside of the one-storey building.
When residents leave, their unit will be “refreshed” and made available to a new senior household.
“This way, it’s affordable senior housing in perpetuity,” Reaume said.
Carole Alexander and her husband, Sandy, are moving into one of the units on Guthrie Drive East.
Aged 80 and 81 respectively, they’re living nearby in a two-storey townhouse owned by a family member who was overseas for several years but has returned. Carole Alexander said their daughter heard about the project and the couple’s application was accepted by Habitat for Humanity.
“I say it’s a miracle,” she said. She said the couple needed to move but weren’t sure where they would end up before the opportunity with Habitat for the Humanity came along.
“We have stairs here,” Alexander said about the townhouse. “I just can’t do the stairs anymore.”
And because the townhouse they’re in now sits next door to the new building, they don’t have to move far.
“We just need to throw things over the back fence,” Alexander said.
She praised Habitat and its staff for their help during the process, and added she and her husband are looking forward to their new home.
“It’s wonderful,” Alexander said. “I just can’t tell you enough.”
Reaume said more than 500 volunteers were part of the building project she described as “a shining example of community at work.”
The cost of creating the five-unit building is “in the range of about three-quarters of a million dollars, all in,” and was financed “completely with donations from this community,” she said. pmor[email protected]media.com
Construction has begun on a six-storey Holiday Inn Express on Point Edward’s Venetian Boulevard. It’s the latest project in Point Edward by Hamilton-based Vrancor Group, which opened the neighbouring Hampton Inn in 2016 and purchased the nearby Best Western Plus Guildwood Inn the following year.
A five-unit senior housing project for seniors in Sarnia has been completed on Guthrie Drive East by Habitat for Humanity SarniaLambton, with the help of more than 500 volunteers. Habitat is turning over the keys at a ceremony Thursday, beginning at 5:30 p.m.