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Sunday, May 24, 2020
Connecting Our Communities

MennoHomes plan more affordable housing for townships

Building on the success of their affordable housing rental units on Centre Street in Elmira, MennoHomes is embarking on an ambitious plan to create even more affordable housing in Elmira and Wellesley village. The projects involve renovating an existing bungalow located at 9 Ratz St. in Elmira, building a duplex on the adjacent vacant lot, and building a second duplex in Wellesley on David Street. The five units will bring the total to 105 for MennoHomes in the past decade.

Yet the new construction projects go beyond merely building new houses. They actually involve the deconstruction of an existing fourplex in Waterloo and transporting three of the floors to the sites – two of those units are headed to Elmira, and one for Wellesley.

“For us this is a first,” said MennoHomes president Martin Buhr. “It’s a whole new experience.”

The unusual opportunity arose last year when a pair of brothers – who wish to remain anonymous – sold their property on King Street North in Waterloo. Faced with the removal of the four-unit building, they could either turn the units into rubble, or donate them.

Luckily for MennoHomes, they chose the latter option.

“Its 10 years old and they’re deconstructing it in modular housing units so it can be reassembled,” said Buhr.

Not only are the brothers donating three of the floors (the fourth was deemed unsalvageable), they are covering most of the costs themselves, including deconstruction, transportation, storage (if necessary), foundation work, and reassembling the units.

The agency doesn’t take ownership of the homes until they pass final inspection and are deemed inhabitable under regional and township building codes. MennoHomes must also complete soil tests at the David Street site before construction can begin to ensure it is not contaminated.

Buhr estimates completing the work themselves would have cost about $100 per square foot, and with each unit about 1,500 square feet in size, the savings should amount to more than $450,000.

There are still a lot of other costs that the company must cover, including site plans that need to be drawn, work to even the grade on the 7,300 square-foot vacant lot in Elmira, and driveways and parking lots must also be completed.

An entire second storey for the Wellesley unit will also need to be built on top of the donated floor as part of the project.

In total, MennoHomes will need about $250,000, and to help offset some of those costs they are holding a bike-a-thon on June 23 at the Elmira Mennonite Church, 58 Church St. W. Starting at 9 a.m. or after lunch, teams of participants will be invited to bike, run, or walk along the Kissing Bridge Trail with routes to West Montrose or Wallenstein.

The goal is to raise $60,000 in support of MennoHomes campaign for affordable housing. For more information or for a pledge form, contact Martin Buhr (519) 578-5546 or pama@sympatico.ca. Visit www.mennohomes.com for more details.

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