Edmonton's Habitat for Humanity preps for 75-home building blitz

When former president Jimmy Carter comes to Edmonton in July he'll be backed by an army of volunteers. The scramble is on now to be ready for the biggest building blitz ever for the Edmonton Habitat for Humanity.

Habitat for Humanity volunteers preparing for arrival this summer of former U.S. president Jimmy Carter

"It's like winning the Olympics"

5 years ago
Duration 1:37
Watch this video to learn more about the 75 homes being built in the Edmonton area in the summer of 2017 through Habitat for Humanity and the Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project. 1:37

Organizers with Habitat for Humanity Edmonton are bracing for the biggest build in its 25-year history.

"It's like the Olympics," said president & CEO Alfred Nikolai.

"To have the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project rolling into our region from July 9 to the 14th is huge," he said.
Habitat for Humanity Edmonton CEO Alfred Nikolai checks in at the west Edmonton ReStore. (John Robertson/CBC)

"We're expecting literally thousands of volunteers to come that week from across The States and around the world," explains Nikolai.

The Carter crew will be working on 58 homes in the south Edmonton neighbourhood of the Laurel, 16 homes in the community of Fort Saskatchewan, and one site yet to be determined all in one week.

In order to tackle 75 construction projects in one week local volunteers are already building walls, decks, and floors for those homes in the warmth of the organization's prefabrication shop.

"I'm putting out a wish to all Edmontonians to try to help us get ready," Nikolai said. "We're going to need the help of volunteers between now and July." 

Each local family receiving a home is also pitching in 500 hours of volunteering.

The families are then responsible for an interest-free mortgage with payments that do not exceed 25 pre cent of their household income.

From the vault: Habitat for Humanity

5 years ago
Duration 2:02
Watch this video we dug up out of the CBC archive vault by reporter Lionel Goddard of the first Habitat for Humanity home built in Edmonton in 1992. 2:02

The 75-home building blitz is the largest affordable housing project ever for the Edmonton chapter of Habitat for Humanity.
Trish and Pino Drovandi scour the ReStore in west Edmonton for treasures like this lamp. (John Robertson/CBC)

One of the big ways the organization keeps its administration costs down is through the proceeds of three ReStores in the city, said Chris Gibson director of ReStore operations.

Items are donated by individuals and corporations, volunteers sort and stock the store shelves, and shoppers purchase building supplies, furniture and other items.

In the three Edmonton ReStore locations last year, 100,000 transactions resulted in $3 million in sales, Gibson said.

But whether you support by shopping or by swinging a hammer, Alfred Nikolai believes "all you need is the will to help others."

You can see more from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore on Our Edmonton Saturday at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. on Sunday and Monday on CBC TV. 

Inside the Habitat for Humanity ReStore

5 years ago
Duration 4:19
Alfred Nikolai with Habitat for Humanity tours Our Edmonton host Adrienne Lamb around their ReStore in west Edmonton. 4:19


Adrienne Lamb is an award-winning journalist based in Edmonton. She's the host and producer of Our Edmonton featured weekly on CBC TV. Adrienne has spent the last couple of decades telling stories across Canada.