Two families who have made Canada their home profusely thanked Habitat for Humanity Sarnia-Lambton after they received the keys to their new homes in Forest.
A key ceremony was held on Union Street Friday morning.
Habitat for Humanity Sarnia-Lambton CEO David Waters said these types of occasions are always special.
"Warms your heart," he said. "These families are Syrian families, they've come to Canada and have worked hard but couldn't seem to get ahead because of the high rental situation. So for them to be our families of choice and for them to get a home, it's a dream come true for them."
Hamza Khalifeh and his wife Najah will move into one of the houses with their three children. Abdullah Alkhalifa and his wife Badour Alzuh will move into the other house with their two children.
Habitat for Humanity Sarnia-Lambton Board Chair Martin Vrolyk gives keys to Hamza Khalifeh and his wife Najah. December 8, 2023. (Photo by Natalia Vega)
Alkhalifa said he moved to Canada in 2018. During a speech, he profusely thanked all of those who had a hand in helping his family move into a safe space.
"I'm really, really excited for this day. I really appreciate the Habitat community for the things they [have done] for us. That's my kid's future, my future," Alkhalifa said. "Thanks to everyone who volunteered, thanks to everyone who donated to the Habitat community, because all of them are helping to build more houses and helping us [stay] in safe locations."
Abdullah Alkhalifa thanks the Habitat for Humanity community. December 8, 2023. (Photo by Natalia Vega)
Habitat for Humanity works with families to coordinate an affordable mortgage geared to their income without the need for a down payment. The homes are not given away but the build process does include at least 500 volunteer hours.
The non-profit organization broke ground at the site in Forest in the spring of 2022.
"The first one went up really fast and then the second one... we were delayed on windows, we had some staffing issues, we were in between staff so it was a little slower than we would have liked but it's always nice when they get finished," said Waters.
Through the National Housing Strategy, the Government of Canada invested $100,000 into the two homes in Forest.
The local chapter of Habitat for Humanity is currently in the process of building two homes on Emma Street in Sarnia for two large families. Waters said due to a lot of red tape challenges with the city, the projects have also taken longer than hoped for.
In 2024, two new builds will begin on Grey Crescent in Sarnia.
In March 2023, the federal government and Habitat for Humanity Canada announced an additional investment of $25 million to build 500 new affordable homes across Canada over the next three years.