OTTAWA, April 30 /CNW/ - Last night, more than 60 Members of Parliament joined 200 Habitat for Humanity Canada employees and volunteers at a Parliamentary Reception to officially kick off Habitat's 2010 Annual General Meeting and help celebrate the Canadian organization's 25th anniversary. On hand to show their support and speak about affordable housing in Canada were The Honourable Ken Dryden, Member of Parliament and Liberal National Outreach Advisor for Poverty and Working Families, and Megan Leslie, Member of Parliament and New Democrat Critic for Housing and Homelessness.
"Affordable housing is a critical issue that affects many Canadians; too many families in this country are forced to make the unthinkable choice between shelter and food, or sacrifice childcare to ensure they have a roof over their head," said Stewart Hardacre, President and COO of Habitat for Humanity Canada during his welcoming remarks. "Today, a staggering 1.3 million Canadian families live in need of basic housing. Many of these families have an average household income of just $19,000 - nearly 73 per cent below the average household income in Canada."
Over the past 25 years, Habitat for Humanity Canada has made an impactful difference in the lives and livelihoods of these families. The organization and its 73 affiliates have successfully housed more than 1,600 hard-working and deserving families and logged more than 10 million volunteer hours; however, there is still much to be done. During his address, Hardacre encouraged all Canadians to:
- Recognize the important role of affordable homeownership as a key
element of affordable housing and poverty reduction strategies
- Create access to affordable land - whether it is below market or
- Provide funding to affordable homeownership providers on a per unit
basis to significantly improve the level of affordability
- Provide funding to provinces and territories for down payment
assistance for qualifying low-income families
- Implement tax credit programs which create incentives for
corporations and individuals to support affordable housing
Ken Dryden and Megan Leslie took a moment at the reception to share their views on affordable housing.
"Everybody deserves a chance," said Mr. Dryden. "There are so many people in Canada who do not live the way any Canadian should live. And unless we have a safe, secure roof over our heads, it is very difficult to put a life together - to have a job, to have a family, to build a future. Habitat for Humanity helps give people that chance."
"There is a direct link between housing and the health of individuals and communities, as well as our workforce productivity," said Ms. Leslie. "Stable and affordable housing and investing in housing for all Canadians makes long-term economic sense."
The formal remarks concluded with a touching address by a local Habitat Partner Family member, Irene Labelle, who explained how Habitat for Humanity Canada helped provide her family with safe and affordable housing. Before Habitat, Irene lived in a rented apartment with her two young girls where she struggled to pay the bills. She also faced unresolved maintenance issues and a neighbourhood that kept her girls from playing outdoors or sleeping soundly at night. Owning her own home was a distant dream. Today, thanks to Habitat for Humanity, she has achieved her goal and owns a home where she can raise her daughters in a safe and welcoming environment.
The evening concluded with all Members of Parliament signing a piece of drywall in support of Habitat for Humanity Canada's achievements over the last quarter-century. The drywall will be taken back to Habitat National Capital Region and installed in an Ottawa area home scheduled to be built later this year.
About Habitat for Humanity Canada:
Founded in 1985, Habitat for Humanity Canada is a national, non-profit organization working for a world where everyone has a safe and decent place to live. With the help of over 50,000 volunteers and 73 affiliate organizations from coast to coast, their mission is to break the cycle of poverty through affordable housing and the promotion of homeownership.
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SOURCE Habitat for Humanity Canada
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