WATCH ABOVE: Rutherford is now home to the largest Habitat for Humanity project in national history. Laurel Gregory spoke to a family for whom the record is personal.
EDMONTON – One small key has unlocked big dreams for 16 Edmonton families who are now homeowners.
The Neufeld Landing project, located in south Edmonton’s Rutherford neighbourhood, is the largest build in Canada’s Habitat for Humanity history. Once complete, it will house 64 families — many of whom are new Canadians.
“I think that when we’re done there are going to be somewhere in the vicinity of 200 children living here. And that’s pretty amazing,” said long-time volunteer accountant Don Neufeld, after whom the development is named.
The Syeds are among the 16 new families who entered their townhouses Tuesday. The family of five moved to Edmonton just a few years ago from Saudi Arabia. The three boys — aged eight, nine, and 17 — previously shared a single bedroom in an apartment.
Not surprisingly, they’re very excited to each get their own space. Nine-year-old Zaid Syed already has big plans for his room.
“I’m gonna put my cars, like, sideways here,” he said, pointing to the floor along one of his walls.
He’s also pretty pumped about getting to play with his cars on the stairs that lead to his room.
“I always wanted stairs in a house,” he confessed.
In order to own a Habitat Humanity home, the boy’s father had to put in 500 hours of “sweat equity,” working alongside countless volunteers who donate their time to help build the family’s home.
Alfred Nikolai, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity Edmonton, says the homes are sold to families at market value, but financed through interest-free mortgages.
“We provide these families that huge dream of building a better future for their children through their own hard work,” Nikolai said.
“I think it’s really nice that they’re helping out and they care for us,” said young Trai Carter of the volunteers who helped build his home. “And I think that’s why they’re making the houses.”
“It is the children,” said Neufeld. “That’s what it’s about. This is giving them a place where they’ll be able to stay in one school for a long time, make good friends and hopefully go on to a very successful life.”
With files from Laurel Gregory, Global News