Apparently no former U.S. President will be coming to Slave Lake to pound nails in a Habitat for Humanity build. That’s the bad news. The good news is that contrary to local opinions and rumours, the Habitat build on 12th St. SE in Slave Lake has been moving along. It has taken longer than the previous two builds on 10th Ave SE, and happened with less publicity – but it’s okay and will soon be finished, says a Habitat official.
“We’re basically done,” says Laszlo Bajzar, Habitat’s development officer for the northern area of the province. “We’re doing cleaning and landscaping.”
The new owners of the home are involved, and – according to the typical agreement with Habitat – will help with construction to the tune of 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ in the project. That’s the standard commitment from the people who acquire homes through Habitat. They also have to be able to assume a mortgage through Habitat, which is at zero per cent interest and with monthly payments not exceeding 25 per cent of income.
Habitat has a couple of much bigger projects going on in Fort Saskatchewan and Edmonton. They received a lot of publicity recently, when two celebrity couple volunteers showed up to swing hammers for a few hours or days. They were former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and First Lady Rosalynn Carter, plus country music stars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood.
All that focus and fuss notwithstanding, Habitat Edmonton CEO Alfred Nikolai says, “housing in smaller communities is just as important to us.”
Volunteer burnout is an issue, though, Bajzar (pronounced ‘buy-zar’) acknowledges. It was a factor in the slower pace of construction on the 12th Ave. build. How the next one turns out remains to be seen – and we won’t have to wait too long to find out.
“We hope to put out a call for volunteers fairly soon,” Bajzar says.
Habitat has 10 lots in Slave Lake on which it hopes to build homes for people who otherwise would have a hard time ever purchasing one. The lots were handed over to Habitat by the provincial government after the 2011 wildfire, which destroyed the public housing units that were on them. Because the government had decided to move away from single-family dwellings in its social housing portfolio, the lots became available and the decision was made to turn them over to Habitat.
The third Habitat for Humanity home in Slave Lake: three down, seven to go.