Building on hold for Penticton Habitat project

Habitat for Humanity South Okanagan recently decided to put the building of their current project on hold until at least late February.

Volunteer crews managed to get the foundation laid and back filled for the current South Okanagan Habitat for Humanity project

Volunteer crews managed to get the foundation laid and back filled for the current South Okanagan Habitat for Humanity project

Habitat for Humanity in the South Okanagan got an early Christmas present this week with news that they were successful in a third one of their grant bids.

The Real Estate Foundation of B.C. announced this week they were awarding a $20,000 grant to help Habitat build their latest project, an environmentally friendly home on Huth Avenue in Penticton.

According to Habitat co-chair Lynn Popoff, the decision to fund a single family home was unusual, as the foundation usually prefers to fund multiplexes. However, Popoff said, the foundation was intrigued by the green building strategies and design of the home, which incorporates a rammed earth wall as well as solar water heating, light tubes and aerothermal heating.

Habitat is a non-profit organization working in partnership with families in need to build affordable housing for those who would not qualify or be able to afford a conventional mortgage.

Though they had originally hoped to continue construction on the Huth Avenue project through the winter, Habitat recently decided to put the project on hold until at least late February.

According to the local chapter’s co-chair Merle Kindred, the Habitat South Okanagan board of directors held a long discussion before deciding that continuing on a winter build with volunteer labour would be too risky.

“The foundation is in and the back filling is done. Framing, doors, windows, pouring the floor slab, and roofing would follow,” said Kindred’s release.

But board members were concerned that if winter conditions stalled the build, it would expose the substructure to the elements. As well, keeping the volunteers warm might prove impossible, along with safety concerns.

In the meantime, fundraising for the project will continue, working with the group’s new resource development officer, Jacki Wlodarczyk, recently hired with funds received under a joint grant to the Habitat affiliates in Vernon, Kelowna and the South Okanagan.

The group is also laying the groundwork for a future build, entering discussions with Penticton council to obtain land to build a multi-family building.

The high cost of land in the Penticton area makes it very difficult for low-income families to become homeowners, even with the advantages that Habitat is able to give them in a single family dwelling, according to Kindred, who explained that duplexes share the land costs and fourplexes divide the cost even further.

If you are able to help with fundraising, volunteer recruitment, donating or discounting materials, or have an interest in becoming a board member contact Lynn Popoff at 778-476-0609 or Merle Kindred at 778-476-1319.