There was rain and tears, but everyone was happy.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver handed over the keys to 12 new homes for new Mission families in a dedication ceremony on Thursday, June 9, as construction wraps up on a project that first broke ground in February, 2020.
Hundreds of companies, employees and volunteers (including city councillors) have spent thousands of hours pitching in on the construction of 19 homes on the Cedar Valley Connector. The first seven were completed in June 2021; the final 12 will be occupied next week.
The 12 families include six single moms and four immigrant families – three of whom are refugees from conflict zones.
Ahmad Sadeqi and his wife Zuhal came to Canada six years as refugees. They fled from Afghanistan to Pakistan in 1993, and spent years in refugee camps, Sadeqi said.
He said his goal now is to give his three children, Ghazal, Yousef, and Raheel a better life.
“I have a dark past,” he said. “They should have a bright future … This is a great time and great moment. I cannot explain really, I am really happy. We are really happy.”
The non-profit helps renting families, who would never be able qualify for a traditional mortgage in B.C.
Selected families go through rigorous screening, are required to put in 500 hours of labour, sign a 21-year lease, and pay 30 per cent of their monthly income to the non-profit. This allows them to increase their savings.
Once kids grow up, or alternatively when the family decides to move out, a percentage of their accumulated rent payments are returned to them for the purpose of a down payment on a house of their own.
Stephani Baker, Habitat for Humanity’s vice-president of construction, thanked the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, provincial government, BC Housing and City of Mission for their consistent support.
She said the city helped provide land at an affordable cost, and helped mitigate other expenses.
The completion is a celebration of “all the good that comes from collaboration, dedication, kindness and generosity,” Baker said.
Abbotsford-Mission MLA, Mayor Paul Horn, and most city councillors were present at the ceremony. Each took turns handing off a set of keys to the families.
Coquitlam city councillors were also present; Habitat for Humanity Greater Vancouver plans to build 42 homes in the city starting in 2023. Horn handed off a green construction hammer to them, signifying a move on to the next project.
“I’m really hopeful and confident that after today’s experience, you’re going to be super excited to get this done in your own community,” Alexis said to the Coquitlam councillors.
Mission councillors were presented with a golden hammer on a plaque.
Each of the Mission homes is roughly 1,400 square feet, with three bedrooms and a garage. Construction will officially finish in July.