Austin Denby

Austin Denby

Nanaimo families find stability in Habitat for Humanity subdivision

NANAIMO – Habitat for Humanity building first six-home subdivision for families facing financial struggles.

Jamie Pearce, his wife Crystal Bacon and their three children are looking forward to the stability of owning their own home.

They’ll move in next door to James and Lisa Denby and their four children when Habitat for Humanity completes the first phase of Meadow Hill, a six-home subdivision at 2360 Extension Rd. which is Habitat for Humanity Mid-Vancouver Island’s first subdivision and its largest project to date.

To qualify for a Habitat for Humanity home, families must have the ability to pay a mortgage and other household expenses. The organization has so far created 13 homes for families in Nanaimo.

The Pearces have lived for several years in rental housing, often been at the whim of landlords selling rental properties or being unwilling to repair aging housing.

“Just the forecast of stability for my family is incredible,” Pearce said at a ground-breaking ceremony Tuesday.

Partner families contribute 500 hours of sweat equity prior to moving into their homes. Pearce is a roofer with construction experience and helped prepare the site for his home’s foundations. He hopes to keep volunteering until his home is complete in early 2016.

The Denbys, originally from Winnipeg, followed James’ job positions to Calgary where the cost of living proved unmanageable. James is an information technology technician who has worked for the same company throughout his career. When a permanent position opened in Nanaimo last year, he jumped at it, but renting proved challenging.

“The fact that we can put a picture up without worrying about filling a hole afterward,” Denby said. “The fact that they can choose their colours for their bedrooms. It’s home.”

Neighbours have already had the Denbys over for a visit and offered tools, water and help.

“It’s awesome to know we’re coming into a great neighbourhood,” Denby said.

The total cost for the project is estimated at $1.5 million. To keep costs down, the project relies on volunteer labour, cash and in-kind donations and some breaks from the city in terms of waiving certain development charges and cutting red tape.

Jamie Chalmers, former instructor for Vancouver Island University’s carpentry program, associate dean with the university and chairman for the project, said the organization is fast-tracking the development by relying less on volunteer labour, to get the families into their homes quickly.

The project’s second phase should begin in early 2016 with all six homes completed by mid-2017.

Habitat for Humanity aims to raise $200,000 for the Phase 1 land development costs, plus financial assistance with building the project’s first homes.

Donations can be made online at www.habitatmvi.org, in person at the Habitat for Humanity office at 1-4128 Mostar Rd. or by calling 250-758-8087, ext. 1.

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