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Habitat for Humanity Durham merges with GTA division

Phase 4 of Habitat for Humanity’s Centretown site in Oshawa includes four more units and is set to be complete by September or October of this year. (Photo by Courtney Bachar)

By Courtney Bachar/The Oshawa Express/LJI Reporter

Habitat for Humanity Durham has joined forces with its GTA partner to become one.

Habitat for Humanity GTA and Habitat for Humanity Durham officially amalgamated on April 1 and will provide the organization with more opportunities to access land to develop new affordable housing for working, lower-income families in Durham.

“This lets us bring our volunteer, fundraising, construction and restore resources together to build more homes so we can do it faster and more efficiently,” says Wayne Dempsey, VP of construction and regional general manager for Durham.  “The board of Habitat Durham was thrilled to partner with us. This is really the best for Habitat Durham. We want to be able to have more families in homes,” he adds.

Habitat for Humanity currently has two active build sites – one in Oshawa and one in Georgina. The CentreTowne Oshawa site is a 24-home affordable housing townhome development with 14 completed homes so far. The site is currently in phase 4 with four more units under construction and will follow with the start of phase five this summer, which will be the final six units.

Demspey says both sites had to halt construction in early March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed the projects.

“We essentially shut the sites down in early March. We wanted to protect our volunteers and we wanted to protect our staff,” he says.

Dempsey says the ReStore locations were also closed in March due to the pandemic.

“They were really affected,” he says, however, Dempsey adds Habitat worked quickly to launch an e-commerce site in order to continue selling goods online during the closure.

Dempsey says the ReStores have since reopened to in-person customers and the build sites have been up and running again since early June on a reduced schedule with an expected completion date on phase 4 of September or early October.

“We wanted to make sure we had our protocols in place,” says Dempsey, noting it can be difficult working in the houses with masks as it can get warm with stagnant air in the houses.

Dempsey says phase 5 is expected to start in the summer with an anticipated completion date of April 2021.

While Dempsey says families have already been chosen for these four units, they’re still looking for families for the next six units in phase 5.

Dempsey notes while they’re still working at a reduced schedule, volunteers are always welcome and needed.

“We welcome volunteers. We can use volunteers at our ReStores, and we can certainly use them on the build site as things get busier,” he says.

Anyone interested in volunteering or for more information can visit www.habitatgta.ca.

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