In its 36th year, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba sets sights on biggest build yet

With the belief that everyone deserves a safe and decent place to live, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba is a non-profit housing organization that builds homes, communities and hope for low-income families. With the help of volunteers, donors and community partners, Habitat Manitoba has helped over 500 families, including more than 1,400 children, in Manitoba and Kenora, Ontario.

Part of the larger Habitat for Humanity organization, Habitat Manitoba was founded in 1987 and now, over 35 years later—with a brand-new CEO—Habitat for Humanity Manitoba is embarking on its biggest project yet, on Pandora Ave. West in Winnipeg.

Jamie Hall, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba CEO

Jamie Hall joined Habitat for Humanity Manitoba as CEO in the summer of 2023, and says it’s not about changing course—it’s about building on solid foundations.

“I’m honoured and humbled to be part of this great organization. We want to build and expand while helping more families become homeowners.”

New development to be Habitat for Humanity Manitoba’s largest yet

The new development on Pandora will house 55 families in 11 different five-plexes, all with state-of-the-art energy efficiency and a carbon-free footprint. It will be home to approximately 275 people—175 of them children.

Construction at the site will continue for approximately three years, finishing in 2026.

Habitat for Humanity's new build at Pandora Ave. West in Winnipeg

“We’re committed to this project for the next few years,” Jamie explains. “And because it’s all in one place, Pandora helps us with efficiency in our builds.”

Jamie notes the scale of the new build is also special for Habitat.

“Because it’s housing 55 families, it’s really going to be a neighbourhood in itself. It’s exciting to think we’re building a complete community.”

A local legacy

To date, Habitat for Humanity Manitoba has helped to house over 500 low-income families who are struggling to save for a down-payment or can’t afford ongoing mortgage payments. The organization purchases land, builds housing and holds the no-down-payment, no-interest mortgage for 15 years. 

Habitat for Humanity Manitoba celebrating 35 years

Instead of securing mortgage financing through a traditional lender, first-time homebuyers contribute 500 hours of sweat equity towards build sites or ReStore activities, and then purchase the property directly from Habitat for Humanity. Homeowners make monthly payments to cover property taxes and pay down the principal, eventually owning the property outright when payments conclude. 

The nonprofit is funded through a variety of revenue streams. In addition to home builds, the Manitoba affiliate operates three ReStore locations, which receive new and used building materials generously donated by manufacturers, retailers, contractors and homeowners to resell to the general public. All profits fully support ongoing administrative costs, meaning every dollar that is donated to Habitat goes directly to the builds.

Building homes and camaraderie

Assiniboine Credit Union’s (ACU) partnership with Habitat for Humanity Manitoba is longstanding. Since 2009, the credit union has donated over $130,000, including $40,000 to support the Aboriginal Build, and five years of annual support for the Women Build Program, in which a build team is composed entirely of people identifying as women.

The ACU team pictured smiling and posing in front of a Habitat for Humanity construction site

In addition to financial contributions, ACU employees volunteer their time on sites. ACU team members have been participating in annual Habitat Team Build opportunities for over 15 years.

“It’s really exciting for the individuals as well as the organization to get involved in the community,” Jamie said. “We also try to ensure the homeowners are there to help build alongside our volunteers, too—it’s very rewarding for our volunteers to work alongside those they’re helping to own a home.”

Dennis Cunningham, ACU’s Manager of Environmental Sustainability, has been participating in builds since 2010. What started as a one-off event has become a meaningful part of his life and something he’s proud to do each year.

Dennis Cunningham, ACU’s Manager of Environmental Sustainability

“People should have affordable housing, so I was immediately hooked,” Dennis says. “Our most recent build was so positive in so many ways. The homeowner was on site, building as well. It’s a great opportunity to work alongside the people who are going to live there.”

Vice President of Member Engagement at ACU, agrees. In September 2022, she completed her first build and says the experience has stayed with her.

Kerri Robertson, ACU's Vice President of Member Engagement

“These kinds of activities mean so much more than a donation. You’re very present in the community. Putting time in to help others is really powerful, as you can see the immediate positive impact.”

Shop, donate, or volunteer—there are many ways to get involved

There are many chances throughout the year to get involved. Builds happen year-round, but are handled by Red Seal carpenters in the winter months, so summer is the best time for most people to volunteer as on-site labour. 

And as Habitat for Humanity Manitoba takes on its biggest build to date, a number of events are taking place through the summer and fall, culminating in the annual House Party—a sit-down dinner event and fundraiser that recognizes the year’s donors and profiles some families receiving help in the coming year.

If you happen to be near one of the organization’s three ReStore locations, a donation or purchase supports ongoing administrative costs.

“The ReStore is like a candy shop for a handypeople,” Jamie says. “There are high quality building materials and tools and it all goes to benefit Habitat for Humanity.”

And of course, a financial donation makes a meaningful contribution as funds go directly towards changing the future of children and families in need.

Get further information about Habitat for Humanity Manitoba on their site, and learn more about the difference your support can make for families and the local community.

About Matt Cohen

Matt is a Winnipeg-based marketer and investor who covers the Canadian financial services industry.

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