Work underway on its first build in Wellesley Township, Habitat for Humanity is looking for the township to support the project by waiving its planning fees.
Facing the prospect of foregoing some $23,000 in revenue, councillors deferred a decision until later this month.
The non-profit group will build a pair of semi-detached homes in Wellesley Village, with construction slated to begin in a month’s time. In a pitch to council Tuesday night, the organization asked for the fees to be dropped to help lower the final cost of the two homes.
The largest portion would be development charges, which sit at just over $8,000 per unit. The fees are intended to cover future municipal expenditures related to growth, with the developers – ultimately the buyers, of course – paying for the cost of each new addition to the building stock.
Tracey Appleton, chair of Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, explained the process by which low-income families become owners of houses built by the organization and its volunteers. Houses aren’t given to families at no charge, but rather, through alternative forms of payment and interest-free mortgages, she noted.
“We sell the homes to the families at fair market value, and instead of a down payment, we have the adults in the families provide what we call sweat equity,” she said. “That is 250 hours of volunteer work in their community or with Habitat for Humanity.”
The organization has been operating in the region since 1988, but this marks the first time it will have a project in Wellesley. Appleton says they recognize the need for affordable housing in the rural areas of the region and that is where the Wellesley plan comes in.
“We want to extend our reach beyond Kitchener. We know there is a demonstrated need throughout the region, including Wellesley,” she said.
The project build manager Darrell Bauman was on hand to describe the homes Habitat for Humanity will be building.
The plan is to construct two homes, attached at the garage. At just over 1,100 square feet each, both houses will have a walkout basement. He says the project is already well underway behind the scenes.
“We have people lined up to volunteer,” he said, adding that the project would take about six months to finish. “We will be finished roughly when the snow flies. It is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of work, but we are going to end up with a well-built house.”
Karen Redman, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region, said the enthusiasm for the project in Wellesley was unmatched.
“You (in Wellesley) have the highest rate of volunteerism in the region. We have been running to keep up with it,” she said. “There is a need for this kind of housing, and not everyone wants to live in Kitchener. We are ecstatic to be in Wellesley.”
The build will begin in the next few weeks at a Queen’s Bush Road site.
Council is expected to address the organization’s request when staff comes back with a recommendation at its Mar. 28 meeting.