Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie and Area (HFHSSMA) held a groundbreaking ceremony for its first-ever fully accessible home Friday.
Tracy Poliquin, who will be moving into the 1,290 square-foot home at 49 Oakwood Drive upon completion, tells SooToday that the new digs will allow her mother, Carol-Anne Grisdale, and her six-year-old daughter, Riddley Proulx to have a home with additional room and mobility.
The multi-generational family unit has been living in a two-bedroom mobile home in Heyden. Poliquin tells SooToday that her daughter is on the autism spectrum, while her mother suffered a stroke last year. When the family finally moves into the new home, Poliquin’s daughter will finally have a bedroom to call her own.
“Being this year’s chosen family has been very overwhelming, but it’s very, very joyful to see the amount of community service that’s been put into it already,” said Poliquin during Friday’s groundbreaking ceremony. “I’ve met some of the neighbours already, and it seems very welcoming to come here.”
“It’s very exciting to be a part of this adventure coming our way.”
Habitat for Humanity Executive Director Katie Blunt says the home will be completed before Christmas, despite the COVID-19 pandemic changing the format of this year’s build.
Usually contractors do the framing of the house, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ll do most of the work. Most people involved with the build are donating their labour, with Habitat for Humanity supplying the building materials which are sold to them at a reduced rate.
Blunt expects that the volunteer work will come in closer to the completion of the project, which could see volunteers painting, laying down flooring and maybe tackling some of the trim work.
“This year because of the pandemic we’re still planning on using mostly tradesmen and contractors just for the sake of safety. It’s really difficult with having volunteers - when you have 20 volunteers on site, there’s social distancing that cannot happen,” Blunt said.
The Oakwood Drive property was donated to Habitat for Humanity by way of a family’s estate.
“A family left it to us in their estate, and it’s a beautiful piece of property, and we’re very grateful to that family for thinking of Habitat, and home ownership,” Blunt said.
As with other build projects undertaken by the organization, applicants must demonstrate a need for the home, be willing to partner with Habitat for Humanity by providing 500 hours of volunteer service and have sufficient income in order to pay off the mortgage.
“There is a mortgage on the home, it’s just that we take away a lot of those barriers that traditional mortgages would have such as interest [and] down payment,” Blunt told reporters. “We require zero down payment, there’s no interest and it’s geared to income.”
The barrier-free home is the first of its kind for HFHSSMA - one of its previously-built homes on Northland Road has some accessibility features, but it’s not fully accessible.
“It’s progress for our organization in Sault Ste. Marie. It’s progress and development, and I think it’s really exciting to be a part of right now,” Blunt said.