Habitat for Humanity does double duty with duplex build

Two Nanaimo families will be living in homes they can call their own, hopefully by Christmas.

Jo-Anne Graham, a single working mom, with her son Raymond, 14, and Kerry Sawchyn, his wife Laura and their son Tyler, 2, were selected recently to be the future owners of a duplex being constructed by Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island at the corner of Hecate and Prideaux streets.

The new home will be a place where Jo-Anne and Raymond can feel secure, compared to the housing complex they have resided in since 2007.

“Where we live right now we’ve had some security issues,” Jo-Anne said. “There was an incident where some guy was loose in our complex with a handgun.”

Jo-Anne and Raymond will not only feel safer in their new home, Raymond will be able to have a pet, a yard to pitch a tent in, hang pictures in his room and be able to paint it whatever colour he wants.

They will also know their neighbours.

Jo-Anne and Kerry Sawchyn went to elementary school together.

The Sawchyns are moving from a home with bad plumbing, electrical and heating systems.

“Our hydro bills can be as high as $300 a month,” said Laura Sawchyn. “This will be a green house and they say that our bills will be under $100 a month for heating and everything. That’s what we’re looking forward to.”

The families have already demonstrated the need for housing and the ability to pay Habitat mortgages and other expenses of home ownership, but they must also put in 500 hours of work on their homes, volunteer with the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or with an alternative charity before moving in.

Habitat for Humanity homes are designed to keep heat, cooling and other operating costs low for their owners by incorporating energy saving designs and technologies – the new duplex takes energy conservation a step further than previous builds.

“This is our first built-green project, fully certified LEEDs gold-rated duplex that we’ve ever done,” said Teresa Pring, Habitat chief executive officer. “We’re really proud of that fact and we have two local families from Nanaimo who have just found out that this is going to be their future home.”

More money is still needed to complete the duplex construction. Habitat is looking for donors to kick in about another $50,000 to finish the $406,000 project, plus ongoing donations to secure a home building project start in 2013.

Donations can be made online at, in person at Habitat for Humantiy Mid Vancouver Island’s office, 1-4128 Mostar Rd., or by calling 250-758-8078.

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