Talk about ground-breaking for area families in need.
Home-building charity Habitat for Humanity will break ground Monday on four new homes — two each in London and St. Thomas — three for which already are spoken.
Habitat for Humanity is looking for a family to fill the fourth home.
In London, the Kassa and Cooper families will become homeowners and neighbours on Forbes Street.
Awatash Kassa is a single mother who works full-time and cares for her adult daughter, Lemlem. Lemlem has cerebral palsy and requires round-the-clock care as well as adequate space for her electric wheelchair.
Awatash’s son, Mennor, is a third-year Western University student. He spends his days studying chemistry and his nights caring for his sister while his mother is at work.
“I really want this house,” said Awatash. “My daughter needs the space to accommodate her special needs.”
Susan Graham, the Kassa family’s liaison volunteer, said Habitat worked to ensure the house meets the family’s needs. An accommodation specialist was consulted while planning and the house will be built with ramps for the wheelchair as well as counters that are at an appropriate height for Lemlem.
The Coopers also will become homeowners through the latest initiative. George and Viola Cooper fled Liberia with their five children due to a civil war in the African country. After living in a refugee camp for five years, they immigrated to Canada.
The Coopers live in an 75-square-metre apartment, which George Cooper said is a tight squeeze for the family of seven. Their new home will give everyone their own space, with bedrooms for each of -the children.
“The kids can’t wait,” said Cooper. “There will be a lot of room for them to move around. It’s amazing. I don’t know how to express how we feel.”
The average cost of a Habitat for Humanity home in Southwestern Ontario is between $160,000 and $200,000. The houses require community donations and volunteer labour with the new owners putting in at least 500 hours of labour.
Applicants must pass a background check to qualify for a zero-down payment, interest-free mortgage backed by the non-profit. The family’s mortgage payments fund future construction projects around the region.
“The key is that it’s a hand up, not a handout,” said Brian Elliot, chief executive of Habitat for Humanity Heartland Ontario.
Elliot said their home buyers are hard-working Canadians who make a minimum of $33,600 and are in inadequate living conditions when they apply.
In London, many Habitat houses already have been built on Forbes Street and the homeowners have created a community. After the two new houses go up, there will be room for 10 more.
With files by Jennifer Bieman, St. Thomas Times-Journal
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When: Monday, 10 a.m. in London; 2 p.m. in St. Thomas
Where: 20 and 22 Forbes St. in London; 40 Alma St. in St. Thomas
Community barbecue to follow at the London build site and at Horton Farmers’ Market, 10 Manitoba St. in St. Thomas
RSVP: Sharon Brennan, firstname.lastname@example.org
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Read other news on the city site of London.