With the current site on Hilchey Road in the final stage of complete build-out, Habitat for Humanity Vancouver Island North has its sights set on its next one.
On Hilchey Road.
Right next door, in fact.
Habitat executive director Pat McKenna came before Campbell River City Council on Feb. 22 to see how they felt about the idea. As with the organization’s previous builds in the community, they were also looking for the city to waive charges and fees associated with the project.
“The final three homes of the 11 currently being built at the current Hilchey site are set to be move-in-ready in “about two weeks,” McKenna says, “and through the course of building we met our neighbours: a lovely retired family, and for lack of a better description, we talked them into selling us their property.”
So they bought out their neighbours, rented them their old home for one dollar per month – they have another home to go to when they’re ready to, McKenna says, – “and we’re very excited to move onto that property and build another 20 homes.”
The ask from council was to again waive rezoning fees, development permit application fees, building permit fees, development cost charges and the like, as the city has done in the past for the organization, recognizing the value of these projects to the community.
Habitat’s model is that they get families no-interest mortgages in exchange for them putting in what’s called “sweat equity” on the building of the homes themselves. The family then owns the home and builds equity while paying 30 per cent of their income towards their mortgage.
That mortgage payment then goes towards future builds.
“The mortgages we collect, when I started, were somewhere in the vicinity of $70,000-$80,000 annually,” McKenna says. “This year we’ll eclipse $250,000 in mortgage payments, which literally helps us build one more home per year. We’re very excited at the capaity we’ve grown and the progress we’ve made.”
McKenna says he’s very happy with how supportive the city has been of both Habitat builds and other projects that have had positive impacts on the local housing situation, and hopes they will continue to support them going forward.
“We’re very, very thankful for everything you do here in Campbell River,” McKenna says. “You’re very progressive when it comes to housing. We’re thankful for the supportive housing on Dogwood, for the Rose Bowl bridge housing and all your partnerships with BC Housing to house Campbell River’s most vulnerable populations.”
The request for waiving the various fees and charges has been forwarded to staff for a report back on what those amounts will be and what the city’s options are in terms of helping the next round of work get done.
Habitat is hoping to begin construction on the new round of units this fall should everything fall into place.