Twenty-two families are now home owners in the past 16 years, thanks to Habitat for Humanity Huronia. This is no hand-out, either. Families apply for a Habitat home, and they put in 500 hours of sweat equity as their home is being built.

They also take an interest-free mortgage on their house and pay it off in a structure they can afford.

Community building professionals come together to supply the talent to build the houses, using donated materials and materials purchased at cost from generous retailers. The whole thing is funded by sales at the Re-Store on Brock St in Barrie.

In a nutshell, that describes the charity that is Habitat for Humanity Huronia. There are 85 chapters like HHH across Canada, all with the mandate to make it possible for families to own homes.

Teresa Habs, now retired from banking, is a board member and liaison with Habitat Huronia's Family Selection Committee. Teresa and her committee are looking for this year's family, the family who will move into a brand new, 1100 square foot bungalow on Malcolm St in Angus this summer or fall.

"Families tell us it's like winning a lottery, to be selected for a Habitat home," says Teresa. She says the very first family who moved into the very first home in 1995 is still there today. Because families repay the cost of the build with a no-interest mortgage, it's a program that is self sustaining.

The winning family will have a combined income range of $35-$40,000 a year (less if it's a single parent family). It will be a family with children. Habitat structures the mortgage payment to be no more than 25% of the family income for mortgage and taxes, so there's money to be buying a house and still supporting a family.

"We look for working families with kids who want to own their own home," she says. Habitat also works with families where there's a long term disability and some disability income, or families where income is enough to handle a small mortgage.  The selected Habitat family can choose how to spend its 500 sweat equity hours... they can learn about various maintenance jobs in owning a home; they are offered financial management courses; they can help build, paint, landscape their property... so many ways to help the rest of the community 'raise their roof.'

If, as you read this, you find yourself wishing you could be that family... or maybe you know a family who would be a great candidate for this new Angus home... or maybe you know an individual who works with people whose income would fall in that $35-$40,000 range... please apply! There are two stipulations:  must be a two year resident of Simcoe County, and must be three years since a bankruptcy was discharged.  [Having a bankruptcy is not a requirement]

Teresa says many company are generous with donations of material and labour to Habitat. Napoleon (Wolf Steel), Barrie's own fireplace, barbecue and furnace manufacturer, offered $100,000 worth of furnaces to Habitat nationally... the Angus build will apply for one of those furnaces.

Teresa describes the home. "The average house is 1100 square feet. These are simple, decent, affordable houses with manageable taxes, she says."

It's easy to apply to be a Habitat family. Call Executive Director Melody Edwards at 705 727-0802.  Pick up an application at 128 Brock St in Barrie. Or go to the website and download an application form: www.habitathuronia.com.

It you want to volunteer on this year's build, there are open arms waiting for you... select Volunteer hub on the website and sign up.

Thanks, Teresa.  And thanks to the whole board of directors who are making this happen!

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