A cross-Canada building blitz for safe and affordable housing

Habitat for Humanity’s 2017 Carter Work Project creating 150 homes this week for Canada 150

A hand up, not a hand out.

It’s been the motto of Habitat for Humanity for decades. And in Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta, broad shoulders and strong backs are going to make it happen.

The city of 25,000 just outside the provincial capital of Edmonton has faced affordable housing challenges for some time. But this summer, the city is engineering meaningful change.

The city is sponsoring this week’s 2017 Carter Work Project in communities across Canada, with 16 home builds going up in Fort Saskatchewan. And the city will also keep that momentum going, with plans to build affordable homes with Habitat on an annual basis.

“It is very difficult to attract people to come in and work in some of the service industries and some of the lower-paying jobs,” Fort Saskatchewan mayor Gale Katchur, who’ll be swinging a hammer as a volunteer this week, tells the Carter Work Project blog.

“I’m so passionate about Habitat for Humanity because parents know their kids have a home to go to, and children improve in their schoolwork,” she says. “Families feel part of the community; they’re not struggling to figure out where their ends are going to meet.”

The 34th annual Carter Work Project will build 150 homes in Canadian communities this week, as a way of celebrating Canada’s 150th anniversary. The annual initiative sees former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and wife Rosalynn leading thousands of Habitat for Humanity volunteers in building affordable homes.

Since 1984, the Carter Work Project has galvanized more than 92,000 volunteers in 14 countries who’ve helped build, renovate and repair nearly 4,000 homes.

Enbridge has a long-standing partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada, and we’re one of several companies supporting the 2017 Carter Work Project. The Enbridge Aboriginal Home Program is currently in its fifth year of a $1-million partnership with Habitat for Humanity Canada’s Aboriginal Housing Program, with Enbridge sponsoring home builds each year across Canada for Indigenous families.

During this week’s Carter Work Project, 75 of the 150 new Habitat homes will be built in the Edmonton area, including those 16 in Fort Saskatchewan, while 25 more safe, affordable homes will take shape in Winnipeg and its surrounding communities.

In Edmonton and Fort Saskatchewan, 130 Enbridge volunteers will be measuring twice and cutting once as part of the Carter Work Project.

“Our Habitat chapter continues to grow. We are the fifth-largest Canadian city, but I’m really proud to tell you that we are the largest Habitat in the country,” Edmonton mayor Don Iveson tells the Carter Work Project blog. “This is the kind of place where people really do pitch in to build things for each other, literally and figuratively.”

The Carters first built in Manitoba more than two decades ago, in 1993, and the Habitat model has been extremely effective in the province, with more than 170 homes built since 2001.

“What I really take away is the sense of pride that you see in people’s eyes when the keys are handed over to them,” says Scott Fielding, Manitoba’s Minister of Families. “It’s a very special moment because they contributed so much to the building of their own home.”