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Dear Editor:

This is an open letter to congratulate Meaford's Mayor Barb Clumpus , Meaford's CAO Rob Armstrong, The Ontario Professional Planners Institute, Grey County Senior Planner Scott Taylor and all those involved in organizing the recent Attainable Housing Forum at the Meaford Hall.

The hall was near capacity, with an impressive representation of residential developers, Grey and Bruce county staff, Students from University of Guelph, speakers from Ministry of Housing and Ministry of Municipal Affairs, CMHC, Tiny Homes builders & the Chief Building Official from Town of the Blue Mountains, along with President of the Blue Mountain Village Association.

Mayor Clumpus welcomed Grey County Warden Stuart Halliday, who opened the event acknowledging the importance of affordable housing for Grey county residents, further congratulating Mayor Clumpus for her leadership as host for the days discussion.

Habitat for Humanity's Grey Bruce affiliate was represented at this day long event by Executive Director Greg Fryer and myself attending. This forum was appreciated by all who are committed to ensuring safe, affordable housing for all residents of our region.

It was an opportunity to better understand the affordable housing crisis in this region-and an excellent opportunity for understanding the many tools available, through collaborative new models, we can create and build decent housing for families. The opportunities were too numerous to list here-yet-there indeed is hope for those looking to get out of the cycle of rental housing, and, realize the dream of home ownership with Habitat for Humanity Grey-Bruce.

Locally, "Habitat" has a dedicated and focused board of directors, a skilled and Nationally recognized management team, and dozens of committed REstore employees, at, (currently) 3 REStore locations, as well as dedicated hard working volunteers who create a team that will continue to build and grow in this region.

At the Mayors forum last week I was still somewhat surprised at how little is really understood about Habitat for Humanity's Standard Home Ownership Model , or the Deferred Home Ownership (HOPE) Model /(rent-to-own) that we support locally. We at Habitat appreciated the opportunity to speak with many interested parties about these models.

As the oldest existing affiliate in Canada today, HFHGB is a non profit organization that builds, and then sells decent and affordable homes to families for $0 down payment, 0% interest, 20 year Habitat held mortgage. Their geared to income monthly mortgage payments are paid to Habitat. We then channel 100% of this mortgage revenue back into building more homes. This re-investment is critical to our success.

Since our beginning in 1987, we have built and re-sold 41 houses in Grey-Bruce , providing transformational home ownership for 63 adults and 89 children. With Habitat, homeowners achieve the strength, stability and independence they desire to build a better life for themselves and their families.

Habitat Grey Bruce aligns with Habitat for Humanity's International vision statement:
That is to work towards a "world where everyone has a decent place to live."

That seems like a simple goal in our counties, yet, we all do not have to look far in our own communities to see substandard, unhealthy, and , often unsafe housing being rented by families who cannot break free -and realize the security and comfort of affordable , safe, decent housing-without help.

Habitat has financing and building models across the country that are as varied as the communities they serve.

For example, in 2017, our local Habitat for Humanity affiliate celebrated with the community at Neyaashiinigmiing (Cape Croker)-partnering on a home build , providing a family with safe, affordable home ownership. The model was developed to satisfy the objectives of all parties involved. This was the first such partnership between a Habitat affiliate and an indigenous community in Ontario. A proud moment for all involved!

Locally, in 2017,Habitat for Humanity also completed two family homes in Owen Sound, on land that had never before produced property taxes for the community-and-will now continue to contribute property taxes.

500 hours of "sweat equity" was achieved by each of these families and the homes are a welcome asset to their neighbourhood.

Recently the Habitat affiliate of Halton region received a commitment from upper levels of government to provide funding for a" Build Factory" ($5.1 million). The province and the region recognize the enormous, long term impact Habitat for Humanity will have in that region to address affordable housing shortfalls. The Build factory will assist affiliates across the province as programs develop-building more homes for more families with mortgage payments geared to income.

Locally, the GreyBruce board of directors is currently pursuing innovative, leading edge financing and development practices to continue to build in this region.

Barrie Ontario , along with cities across Canada have enacted a successful planning tool that is known as "inclusionary zoning". Simply put, this would provide a condition for residential developments to "include" a portion of their development (as little as ONE lot or unit) per residential development (subdivision) to build affordable housing. The success of this model to address ongoing affordable housing options is well documented-and-city officials of Barrie Ontario comment positively on how well this is working in their city. Habitat for Humanity locally is on record (2016) with a request to the City of Owen Sound to show the same innovation and entrench inclusionary zoning to retain a mix of housing stock in new construction projects.

Owen Sound officials do not support "inclusionary zoning" at this time.

Habitat for Humanity encourages and applauds the innovative and inclusionary zoning practices demonstrate in Barrie today, as they manage record growth and home building for residents of all incomes.

We will continue to work with all of our community partners building more homes for more families across GreyBruce.

Our urgent need is land, appropriately zoned, to build single detached, semi detached or multi- unit homes. If you have a severed lot, a property you would like to donate in part or whole , please contact the Habitat for Humanity Business office located at the REstore in Georgian Bluffs (off Highway 21 just north of Springmount).

If you are interested in learning more about Habitat for Humanity please visit our website or visit or call today!
Locally our website is: HabitatGreyBruce.ca

Thanks again to Meaford for hosting this very informative and engaging information session.

Deb Haswell
Chair-Board of Directors
Habitat for Humanity-GreyBruce Affiliate.


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