Habitat for Humanity began in 1976 in Georgia, USA as a way for volunteers and community partners to provide safe, affordable housing for low-income families. Since its inception, Habitat for Humanity International has built, rehabilitated, repaired or improved more than 400,000 houses worldwide, providing safe, decent and affordable shelter for more than 2 million people.
Habitat for Humanity broke ground on its first home in Canada in 1985. Now, each year about 50,000 volunteers work with 72 Habitat for Humanity affiliates nationwide, helping to break the cycle of poverty for hundreds of low-income Canadian families.
In Nova Scotia, Habitat for Humanity was first established in 1992. In its first 19 years in the province, volunteers have built 30 homes in the province.
Through volunteer labour, efficient management and tax-deductible donations of money and materials, Habitat for Humanity builds and rehabilitates safe, decent and affordable houses with the help of the homeowner (partner) families. Habitat houses are sold to partner families at no profit and are financed with affordable, no-interest mortgages. The homeowners' monthly mortgage payments go into a revolving fund, which is used to build more homes.
Habitat for Humanity is a hand up, not a hand out. In addition to mortgage payments, each homeowner invests hundreds of hours of their own labour, called "sweat equity”, into the building of their home and the homes of others.
The Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia Board of Directors ensures that the affiliate meets national standards and determines provincial policies and operations. Board members are dedicated volunteers who are deeply concerned about the need for safe, decent and affordable shelter throughout the province.
Build projects throughout the province are manged by Regional Leadership Teams within the community.
The Executive Director reports to the BOD and directs affiliate staff and volunteer team.
Donations that are designated to a specific project are used as directed. Any undesignated gifts are used for administrative expenses or distributed according to need in the province. Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia’s audited financial statements are available for review upon request.
Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia upholds the highest standards of accountability and transparency. Our reputation is our most important asset, and maintaining strong and open relations with our supporters is a top priority.
For this reason, Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia is one of Imagine Canada’s Ethical Code Program participants, meaning that we commit to the guidelines set in Imagine Canada’s Ethical Fundraising and Financial Accountability Code.
For more information, please visit imaginecanada.ca.
Habitat for Humanity affiliates build homes with volunteer labour and as much donated or cost-reduced material as possible. Fundraising takes place to help offset the expense of materials, services and land not provided through donations. Proceeds from the ReStore go towards affiliate operations so more of funds raised can go directly to local build projects. Financial support is received from individuals, corporations, service groups and the community.
Mortgages are held by the affiliates and payments go towards future build projects.
Acquiring land is one of Habitat for Humanity's greatest challenges. Habitat for Humanity seeks the assistance of governments at all levels in acquiring suitable donated or cost-reduced land. Habitat for Humanity also relies on individual donors for land donations. Despite these efforts, in most cases, Habitat for Humanity build teams must purchase the land on which they build.
When selecting potential partner families, affiliates consider an applicant’s:
The need for affordable housing is defined by a family income that is below the government-set low-income cut-off (poverty line). Living conditions that are inadequate in terms of structure, cost, safety or size are considered as well as the ratio of shelter expense to total income. Homeowners must demonstrate a willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity by contributing 500 hours of volunteer labour, or "sweat equity”, towards the building of their home. The ability to repay a Habitat mortgage requires that the family has a stable income that is sufficient to cover monthly mortgage payments, set at 30% of gross income (this includes principal repayment and property tax. At the discretion of the affiliate, homeowner insurance may be collected as well, in which case payments would not exceed 30% of gross household income).
Families are chosen by regional teams. They are are evaluated on:
• Level of need
• Willingness to become partners in the program
• Ability to repay a no down-payment, no interest mortgage that is geared to income
To learn more, watch the event calendar for upcoming family information sessions.
Each homeowner invests 500 hours of their time in "sweat equity". They might participate in the building of their home or the home(s) of other partner families, in administrative projects at the affiliate office, and/or in retail at the ReStore. In return, Habitat homeowners are given the unique opportunity to buy a home with an interest-free, no down payment mortgage with payments geared to income. Thus, partner families gain substantial equity that they would be unable to accumulate as renters. They also acquire a safe, decent and affordable place to live along with the pride of home ownership. This partnership gives families a hand-up, not a handout.