Summer: A Time for Relaxation and Fun

From the Desk of Hazzem Koudsi, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Prince Edward-Hastings.

As the end of a school year and the fun of proms, graduations, and other year-end activities approaches, excitement builds in households as families anticipate the onset of summer holidays. For kids, the final days of the school year are met with anticipation of joyful moments doing anything else but going to school and evading the rigors of academic life.

Parents and children alike look forward to this season, which promises opportunities for bonding and creating lasting memories. Whether a vacation, play dates, summer camps, or other fun moments – the possibilities are endless.

For many, summer may not wind up being as fun as planned given the high rents and unaffordable nature of housing being faced by many parents. Rents are well beyond the affordable 30% of gross income resulting in disposable income being eroded thus eliminating any money left over for camps and fun trips as a family. A survey in late 2023 completed by Habitat for Humanity Canada found that 49% of Canadians are spending more than 50% of their household income on housing costs, resulting in a greater reliance on social supports such as food banks and social housing.  This stress on income also means fewer extracurricular activities such as summer camps for children and recreational programs for the entire household.  Participating in camps and extracurricular activities has proven to increase overall resiliency and outcomes for children and provides a more positive outlook for the family as they feel they are included in society.

That’s why we at Habitat PEH feel it’s so important to support our build fund and create affordable homeownership opportunities in our community. We understand the impact of decreased disposable income is also felt by small businesses and other charities in the area. Without disposable income, summer camps suffer, the ability to support other charities suffer and ultimately society suffers from a socioeconomic perspective. Personal future investment is negatively impacted as well. There is less money for retirement planning, which in turn puts pressure on future generations as they will have to carry more financial burden to help aging parents who can’t afford to thrive in retirement because they don’t have money to save today.  It’s a fact – Habitat homeowners save at least $700 per month by paying their mortgage and investing in their own future as opposed to paying higher market rents.

Our recent AGM outlined our success supporting three families last year and we want to try and help seven more this year. Ultimately, we want to help 66 families when we start our condo project at 93 Dundas Street East. Each family that enters into a Habitat mortgage contributes $175,000 back into the economy over the life of their mortgage. That’s $175,000 then going to local businesses like restaurants, clothing stores, charities, churches (not just the chicken), and other small businesses. Through our 66-unit build that would result in almost $12 million into the economy. That’s a positive and meaningful impact for everyone – not just our Habitat families. And that doesn’t take into consideration how that amount multiplies through the community and helps everyone’s well-being.

So, let’s all take a good summer break and enjoy our families, but remember that many don’t get to have as much fun. We have the ability to help our community by supporting Habitat who have a proven track record of supporting families and the community at large.