Students and Habitat build third home together

Keely Dakin
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Carlton Comprehensive High School’s carpentry students are building their third home with Habitat for Humanity. They attended the sod-turning on Wednesday afternoon, and immediately afterwards, they began to break ground.

The students commit an entire semester to the building project, gaining skills while building a three-bedroom, 1,005-square-foot home for Delores Poche and her family.

“It had always been my dream to have my own home, you know, for me and the kids,” Poche said.

“I tried, and being a single parent it was a little bit difficult. So when I heard about this program I applied and that was my whole thing behind it.”

Poche anticipates living with her three children and her grandchild when the home is completed in April or May of 2013.

“To be a homeowner, having a home for the kids you know anytime I’m away there’s still a home there for them. And the grandkids.”

Morris Sawchuk, president of Habit for Humanity Prince Albert Inc., said there is a need for his organization in town.

“There’s a lot of need for affordable housing, the cost of housing has risen tremendously,” Sawchuk said.

“People with conventional mortgages are restricted to 25-year mortgages.”

In June of this year the government reduced the maximum amount of time in which a mortgage can be paid from 30 to 25 years.  That was the third drop to the mortgage maximum since 2008, when it was 40 years.

“Pardon my French, but I don’t know how the hell anyone can pay off a mortgage in 25 years,” Sawchuk said.

Habitat for Humanity carries the weight of the mortgage, which allows them to set their own terms with the new homeowner.

“If we need to make the mortgage 30 to 35 years we can. We tailor it to the family’s ability to repay.”

To apply for a home there are requirements.

“People cannot make more than $52,000 … combined, between husband and wife,” Sawchuk said.

“Then they have to agree to 500 hours of sweat equity (volunteer work).”

 Applicants must volunteer on their own or someone else’s home, as well as agree to pay the mortgage.

“At Habitat, we use a term. We call it a hand up not a hand out. It’s not something for nothing, it’s just a way to help people to move along.” Morris Sawchuk, president of Habitat for Humanity Prince Albert Inc.

The mortgage is completely interest free, Sawchuk said.

“At Habitat, we use a term. We call it a hand up not a hand out. It’s not something for nothing, it’s just a way to help people to move along.”

Poche’s new home will be the 17th in Prince Albert.

While Habitat for Humanity has been in Prince Albert since 1995, Sawchuk says the majority of the builds have been done in the last five years, in large part due to recently successful fundraising efforts.

“We did a major fundraiser five years ago … we set out to raise $450,000, we raised $850,000.”

Everyone is a volunteer and the money continues to be used on house after house because their mandate dictates all the money they get back from the mortgage must go into another house.

“The money that we invest in this house for Delores, she’ll pay back the mortgage and we have to reinvest that money in another house. That’s the rule. We can’t use it to hire people.”

The building of this home is also due to a donation from Wendy Lynn Nicholson’s estate.

 “She had a house that she sold, and in her will she instructed the executor that the money had to go to affordable housing. So that’s how we were able to buy this land here.”

Nicholson’s donation will go not only to the building of Poche’s new home but to the two more homes which they plan to build on the same lot over the next three years.

Carlton Carpentry students will build those homes as well.

“So we will have three Carlton homes for Habitat for Humanity right here,” Sawchuk said.

Organizations: Habitat for Humanity, Humanity Prince Albert

Geographic location: Prince Albert

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