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Affordable housing development in Calgary gives hope to families in need

Click to play video: 'Habitat for Humanity constructing 24 townhomes in northeast Calgary'
Habitat for Humanity constructing 24 townhomes in northeast Calgary
WATCH: A Calgary nonprofit is expanding from building homes to building city blocks. Habitat for Humanity is constructing 24 townhomes in the northeast community of Livingston. Some who have the keys to a new home are now picking up a hammer and giving back. – May 27, 2024

Santhiago Avila knows what it’s like to have multiple families living under one roof.

“I always had to share a room with my sister, so we always had one room, it wasn’t that big, it was pretty small, we had one washroom as well,” they said.

As Calgary’s population continues to grow, so too does the cost of housing and rent.

That’s where one charity is stepping in, hoping to ease some of this pressure.

“Our city is growing at such a rapid pace, and that’s good in a lot of ways but it does put enormous pressure on the housing stock, particularly in the affordable segment where there isn’t very much being built,” said Gerrad Oishi, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity in southern Alberta.

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On Monday, the group kicked off their second annual industry build event in the northeast community of Livingston, with more than 100 people on hand helping to build townhomes.

According to Habitat for Humanity, they are developing $24 million in affordable housing for southern Alberta, with the Livingston development worth $9.8 million.

“This site is actually an entire city block that Habitat for Humanity is building. It’s going to be 24 units of housing and we’re going to have 24 families start a new life in this development,” said Oishi.

Santhiago Avila, whose home was built by Habitat for Humanity, at the site of a future affordable housing development in Livingston. Global News

Avila knows how emotional it will be for those families when they finally move into their new home.

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“It felt unreal … It felt like we could actually call a place home because my whole life we had been either living with my grandparents in their house or my aunt in her house, so we didn’t really have a place that we could call home until we could move into a Habitat home,” they said.

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“The best thing was seeing all the little kids running around on their bicycles, playing soccer.”

After Habitat for Humanity constructs homes, families in need are able to buy them with an affordable mortgage that has no down payment or interest.

Click to play video: 'Calgary council receives update on progress of housing strategy'
Calgary council receives update on progress of housing strategy

“So many of the families that we meet… They’ve done everything right. They have a really good job, they’re trying to be really good parents, but the cost of living in Calgary is such that it can be very difficult for a lot of families,” said Oishi.

“Our focus at Habitat is families, particularly families with multiple children. We feel like that has the greatest impact for our community long term is to get all these children in a stable household, because we know those kids will thrive.”

“I think that the power of this is it’s Calgarians helping Calgarians and that these are your friends, your family perhaps… and to have that tangible nature of a project like this is fantastic,” said volunteer and QR Calgary radio host Andrew Schultz. QR Calgary is a radio station owned by Corus Entertainment, the parent company of Global News.

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