A Community that Cares:
Creating Affordable Housing through
Leadership, Innovation and Collaboration
Report by Gerald Bloomfield
The workshop was organized by
the Community Services Advisory Committee, a
Presenters in the workshop focused on the spectrum of need for seniors housing (Fred Zehr, Tri-County Mennonite Homes); success stories from the initiatives of the Region of Waterloo (Ken Seiling and Rob Horne); the work of Habitat for Humanity in the Stratford area (Jinny McDonald); new development by Menno Homes (Rick Cober Bauman and Martin Buhr) and issues of shelter for homeless teenagers in Stratford (Donna Pammer and Theresa Millen).
While housing for people with disabilities was not directly addressed in the presentations, several speakers referred to issues which are relevant to the housing needs of autistic adults. Group action and self-help were important themes.
Tri-County Mennonite Homes
has three major projects. Two are for seniors--Nithview, New Hamburg
2. Partnerships—service club/individuals purchasing housing facilities which are then rented back to Tri-County
3. Private investment—Some new construction has been financed by personal loans which bear interest rates a little above the bank’s rates, but are lower in cost than commercial loan rates.
4. Fund raising—Largely used for furnishings in the amenity/shared space. A current major fundraising drive in underway by Aldaview to build a new four-person house with full sound-proofing.
The Tri-County website (www.tcmhomes.com) has more information about the organization.
The Habitat for Humanity speaker highlighted the self-help approach. Each family aided by the organization has to contribute at least 500 hours of volunteer work, some directly on construction.. Habitat for Humanity seems to be well supported by volunteers on the construction work but is limited by available financing. The cost of serviced lots is a major barrier to development. About seven houses have been built in the past decade.
Menno Homes, incorporated in
September 2001, was established by the Mennonite Central Committee as a
contribution towards providing affordable homes especially for large
The organization has built a 16-unit complex in the
Presenters at this well
organized meeting gave a very useful view of affordable housing needs
emphasized ways in which innovative organizations have developed