Habi­tat cel­e­brat­ing firsts

Hous­ing project for se­niors is Habi­tat for Hu­man­ity’s most am­bi­tious project

The Observer (Sarnia) - - FRONT PAGE - PAUL MORDEN

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

PAUL MORDEN/SAR­NIA OB­SERVER

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.

PAUL MORDEN/SAR­NIA OB­SERVER

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.

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