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Home & Garden

Habitat For Humanity Wood Buffalo

Crystal Lewis-Wilton
BY Crystal Lewis-Wilton
(1 Vote)

For many people, home ownership is something to be strived for- there is a stability and security that comes with owning your own home vs renting it.  Years are spent working to achieve an acceptable credit score, enough money saved for a down payment and an income level high enough to pre-qualify for a mortgage.  Once those magic numbers have been achieved, the hunt to find the perfect place begins.  Worries about rent hikes and leaving nail holes in the walls disappear as new homeowners put their own touch on their new house.

For those that don’t meet the required income level or just don’t make enough to be able to save for a down payment, home ownership remains an unattainable dream.  Many within this category are hard-working, fiscally responsible people shut out from the opportunity due solely to their choice in profession. 

Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo (HFHWB) works to change that by creating affordable home ownership opportunities for qualified low-income families.  We build simple, modest homes using volunteer labour and donated materials and money.  These homes are sold to our partner families through affordable mortgages- no interest, no down payment, with payments at 25% of household income.  Our partner families also contribute to building their home, working alongside volunteers during the construction of the house.  Partner families are required to put 500 volunteer hours into their home or in to the community before they can move into their home.

This year will be a busy year for Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo.  In addition to building more homes through their regular program, they have added a Wildfire Recovery Program in response to the devastation wrought by last year’s wildfire.  The new program assists qualified uninsured and under-insured homeowners repair or rebuild homes damaged or destroyed in the wildfire.  Following along the same principles of the regular build program, volunteer labour and donated materials and money are used to rebuild or repair homes, keeping costs down.  Applicants go through a selection process to ensure they meet the qualifying criteria and to determine what they have to contribute to their rebuild/repair.  The program is meant as a “top up” program, filling in the gap between what a participant has to put toward their rebuild and the cost to make it happen. 

HFHWB will also be holding their inaugural Playhouse Build-Off and Auction event in June.  The event will see 6 teams compete for the title of “Best Playhouse in Wood Buffalo” during a live build-off.  Community members will be able to come out and cheer on their favorite team during the live event.  The playhouses will be on display for a week at Mac Island, then auctioned off at the “Builder’s Ball” dinner and auction event on June 10th.

This year will also see Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo begin active planning to bring a Restore to our community.  Habitat for Humanity receives many donations of new and gently used building material, cabinetry, landscaping materials, furniture, etc.  Not all of these items can be used in constructing Habitat homes.  These items are sold to the general public at Restores across the nation, diverting huge volumes of good material from the landfill.  Revenue generated from the Restore covers operational expenses allowing for all cash donations to go directly to building more homes for partner families.  Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo is currently recruiting committee members for the Restore Start-Up Committee to get a store up and running.  They are also planning a number of Pop-Up Stores through the year to sell materials that have collected over the last few months while gauging interest in the community for a full-time store.

Like many social profit organizations, HFHWB is a volunteer-based organization.  Under the guidance of the Executive Director, committees comprised of community volunteers plan, organize and execute Affiliate activities.  These committees work together to ensure there are enough money, materials and volunteers to build homes in an efficient, effective and timely fashion and carry out supporting events and activities.  They promote Habitat activities, find qualified program applicants, plan events and oversee the actual construction of the homes.

Habitat for Humanity Wood Buffalo accepts volunteers with all levels of experience and skill.  There are a variety of opportunities for volunteers- help is always appreciated around the office, at the storage warehouse, for community events and on the build site.

HFHWB is currently building their back end structure to support the flurry of activities this year.  The increase in building activity due to the Wildfire Recovery program will see a number of temporary staff positions added to the organization.  They are currently seeking volunteer crew leads (build team supervisors), so they can be trained in time for the build season.  In addition, they are currently building all of their committees to support the increased activities.  These committees include:  Family Selection & Nurture, Volunteer, Events, Fund Development, Public Relations, Construction. 


If you are interested in finding out more about how you can get involved with Habitat for Humanity, contact their office at 780-804-1311 or via email at