Home ownership celebrated

Habitat for Humanity Waterloo Region held its house dedication ceremony this past Saturday to celebrate home ownership with its partner families.

The event acknowledged the completion and ownership of five townhouses in Kitchener’s core. Four of these homes were constructed during the 2009 build season, which commenced in June.

According to Habitat for Humanity board chair Cristina Vanin, “hundreds of volunteers have worked for many weeks alongside our partner families” to achieve the finished product.

Habitat for Humanity is a non-profit organization committed to providing safe, decent and affordable housing to hardworking low income families. Partner families are not given a house but pay for their home at market value in a series of mortgage payments that reflect the family’s income. In place of a down payment, adults in the family must complete 250 hours of “sweat equity,” working with volunteers to build their home.

Sponsors are also a crucial aspect in the process, and numerous businesses and individuals in the community have contributed to the building of these homes. The Habitat for Humanity Laurier Chapter played a part by sponsoring a bedroom in one of the units and sending volunteers to work on the site.

The dedication of these five homes marks the completion of the 19-unit condominium complex that the organization began building in 2006. The community is now home to approximately 30 adults and 70 children who have partnered with Habitat to become homeowners.

“The families … are now making this more than an empty lot,” said Kitchener mayor Carl Zehr. “They are making a neighbourhood and they are creating homes and friendships here in this new community.”

Once the families had been introduced, each was presented with a hammer, a book and a symbolic key to signify that the families could now truly call these houses their own homes.

Habitat executive director Ken Freeman discussed the theology of the hammer, an idea conceptualized by Habitat founder Millard Fuller that recognizes how much more is built on a Habitat build site than just a house.

“It’s a simple but powerful tool for a simple but powerful cause,” said Freeman of helping community members in need of Habitat’s assistance.

A final gesture and symbol was the “circle of love,” which involved everyone present surrounding the families and passing a hammer to one another, providing the opportunity to say an individual prayer for the families as they begin their status of homeownership.