Yesterday Habitat for Humanity Edmonton welcomed 16 families into the largest habitat build in Canadian history. Once completed it will provide homes and a sense of security for 64 families. The vision of Habitat for Humanity is “To see a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live.” They talk of breaking the cycle of poverty and building equity and hope for children.
The program works by identifying families in need of affordable housing and preparing them to be successful homeowners. The homes are built through grants, donated cash and materials, and many volunteer hours. In lieu of a down payment the families invest 500 hours of sweat equity. They then pay an interest free mortgage that is never more than 25% of the income. This money is invested by Habitat for Humanity to help pay for future homes.
All of the donations they receive go towards building homes. In order to pay administrative costs they operate ReStores which accept donations of new and gently used building materials and sell them to the public at discounted rates.
There are so many ways that this can contribute to a more sustainable world. The kids who can now go to school without constantly thinking of being hungry or where they will be sleeping tonight can focus on learning; who knows what they will accomplish in the future. The family may be able to make choices about the impacts of what they are purchasing instead of just hoping they can make the purchase. Building a sense of community among these new homeowners can also contribute to how they interact with and care for the world surrounding their home.
I also think about the impacts on the volunteers. Recognition that they can make a difference. Finding others who share your passion and interests. Realizing how much is possible.
Habitat for Humanity International has operated since 1976. They have built more than 600 000 homes in 100 countries. Is there one in your community? Can you spare some hours to volunteer or even just check out the ReStore to find something you need, which also helps to reduce the need for new materials?
The links between social justice and acting on climate change are vital. This is just one organization that I believe helps to combat climate change while never talking about greenhouse gas emissions.
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