Meeting Minutes - Steve Howard: Habitat for Humanity - Aug. 23rd. 2018
This meeting, held in the Trinity United Church sanctuary, began at 9:55 am and was chaired by Vice-President Julian Sale. There were 35 members in attendance. Julian opened the meeting by welcoming all in attendance with a special welcome to today’s guest presenters, Steve Howard, Andrea McCallum and Stephanie Smith representing Habitat for Humanity. Julian thanked the three guests for volunteering on short notice to fill-in for today’s presentation.
Announcements Activities – Ray Biffis - There are two activities coming up: The Grand River Boat Cruise on Sept. 19th and you can now invite other friends along as guests. Also the night at the races at Elora on Sept. 21st.
Coffee Club – Andy Curtis - Meets on alternate Thursdays at the Boathouse; - At the present time the Air Park Café is closed for maintenance. Check the RCMC website for their phone number in order to call ahead for further information. A few members have recently gone to Angels Diner instead of the Air Park Café.
Kerry Gennings provided a brief anecdote titled “kids who say the darnedest things.”
Julian provided an introduction to the three guests: Steve Howard, Andrea McCallum and Stephanie Smith. They are going to tell us about Habitat for Humanity. Steve’s professional career was in a partnership as a chartered accountant in a regional chartered accountancy firm, leadership in a government professional body and subsequently as CEO in a national association of insurance and financial advisors. Steve was drawn from retirement during which time he restored a century-old home in Elora, participated in various community leadership activities and then accepted his current role to explain “habititous.” He is also a professional speaker at various fund-raising events.
Stephanie Smith is on staff with Habitat for Humanity and she moved into the community more recently and works towards building donor relations and developing Habitat’s new lottery.
Andrea McCallum is a student at UoG studying both science and arts. She has been a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity for the last two months. She is also an entrepreneur and able to tell us about volunteerism with Habitat for Humanity.
Andrea and Steph are here to answer questions about opportunities at Habitat for Humanity, many more than you might realize regarding skills and abilities.
Steve Howard on Habitat for Humanity in the Community Steve opened his presentation by stating that about 75% of the population knows about Habitat for Humanity. Habitat for Humanity is one of the world’s top ten most respected brands.
After Steve’s retirement from his professional career his wife, who was a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity, suggested he consider a position open in Habitat for an Executive Director and he joined in 2013. At the outset he knew that Habitat for Humanity’s mission was to build affordable housing for families and it depended heavily on volunteer activities.
What he didn’t know was that it was the largest home builder in the world nor the value that the homes bring to the community and because of building the homes in less affluent neighbourhoods, they are increasing the value of the homes in the neighbourhood. The families buy their homes and the mortgage is tailored to their incomes and because they are paying the equivalent of rent they are actually building equity in their homes and this is helping them break the cycle of poverty. There is split equity in the value of the homes in that everyone who buys a home has to contribute 500 hours of “sweat-equity” into the construction of the home. The individuals who qualify for a home are in core-housing need and this means they are in need due to being below a certain level of income. For example for a 3-bedroom home represents a family are earning less than $53,000 a year and a 2-bedroom home represents a family earning less than $42,000 a year. This is one income test but there is also the test of whether or not the family is in an unsafe environment or the unsuitable circumstance of too many children sharing too small a bedroom.
Habitat is impactful in that when you put a family into a home there is a benefit coming back to the first and second generation. That’s just not in the form of the additional property taxes but there is the additional benefit of reducing lives of crime particularly in the second generation, better education and the less need for healthcare. A few years ago Habitat had a consulting group study what the benefit to that family and community was and it determined that it was around $75,000. So, a Habitat home is really benefitting the community as much as it is benefitting the family. It benefits seniors and one- and two-children families but it really benefits most the second generation enabling them to grow-up and succeed. Habitat for Humanity has been in Guelph for 18 years and we now see that second generation maturing and entering into the workforce with the benefit of a stable education.
Two things captured Steve specifically about Habitat for Humanity or “habititous” as he calls it. One is that it is a model of social enterprise. It was founded many years ago in the southern USA and had faith-based origins but is now a secular organization. It had the same principle of helping your fellow human by giving a “hand-up” rather than a “hand-out” and through the years the model has evolved. They are now a builder. They are currently building 28 homes on Cityview Drive in Guelph across from the old Guelph Reformatory. They have also entered into an agreement of understanding with the City of Guelph to build on the former IMICo property (a brownfield site) on Beverley and Stevenson Street. Habitat will seek to gather other coalitions or other organizations that are interested in supporting affordable housing. Neighbourhood groups are beginning to be consulted. The property is now undergoing remediation and building should begin in 2020 or 2021. They will build about 800 homes on this site and about 100 will be affordable homes the rest will be a mix of market rental and market ownership. They are also building in Orangeville because their mandate is Wellington and Dufferin Counties. They have recently opened a REStore in Fergus and wherever they have a REStore they are committed to building in that area and are now looking for properties in Fergus. Adding all of this up there about 150 homes on a five year horizon.
Habitat for Humanity is also a retail store. The store on Speedvale has been there for eight years. They plan to expand these stores because they pay the administrative costs which means that the fund raising dollars go into the builds.
They are a social services organization with a family services committee which goes through the qualifications process with the families and then supports them on their home ownership journey and a lot of time is spent with those families. Habitat is a financier because it takes back the mortgages and then helps the families acquire those homes and banks their equity to the point of ownership.
Do the families get the benefit of equity? No, they don’t. The windfall in equity goes back to Habitat so that the can put more families in homes and Habitat reinvests that money into market value appreciation. But the families make their payments and then get back their payments in the property and this helps break the cycle of poverty.
Habitat has some events in November: one locally hosting about 400 people and one in Dufferin hosting about 300 people. They also have the Great Canadian Lottery. Additionally there are other events and some third party events.
The funding model for Habitat for Humanity follows a social capitalist enterprise principle. They take the donation dollars and leverage the payments they get back from the families in the homes and borrow against that, which gives them the capacity to build more homes. So, $1 donation turns into about $4 in the leverage capacity model. A typical home building costs about $75,000 to build one home so this means about $75,000 of fund raising.
It is in Habitat’s charter that volunteerism is an important part of what they do. They have a ratio of 9 volunteers to 1 staff. There are a number of corporate partners that contribute with corporate assistance in the development of the program. So, there is a community legacy opportunity. This fits with their philosophy of “We build homes but we’re really building a community.” They have a social investment model. In building a home with about $75,000 in donations, where there is a shortfall they partner with organizations that have like-minded missions such as Community Living or Women in Crisis. These partners come into the building process and can sometimes place some of their constituents into a home.
When it comes to the investment model, individuals can invest money with Habitat which pays a return of about four percent a year. This helps to fund the construction period of the build. Therefore you can support Habitat either as a donor or as an investor.
This year Habitat has launched a lottery. The prize is a trip across Canada on a glass-domed train starting in either Toronto to Vancouver or Toronto to Halifax. The ticket for the lottery is $75 and it also provides admission into the November party held at the Italian Canadian Club. Stephanie provided a more information about the lottery. Besides the two larger prizes mentioned previously there are a number of smaller prizes so the total value of all prizes is about $20,000.
Volunteers can be part of a build project or you can volunteer at one of the retail stores. They see about 1500 volunteers a year who work in the retail stores.
Andrea added that they are currently looking for volunteers who might be skilled at assembling furniture or disassembling cabinets donated from people’s homes. Skilled volunteers can also be used as mentors to other volunteers such as high school students who volunteer but don’t have the necessary skills and need someone to teach them.
Following the presentation Steve, Andrea and Stephanie responded to questions from the membership.
Julian Sale thanked the guests and gave a donation to Habitat for Humanity from the Club.
Next meeting: Thursday, September 6th. - Maureen Dobbins, RN, PhD "Seniors Health. McMaster Optimal Aging Website."
Adjourn@11:06 am Recording Secretary: Kerry Gennings