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Canadian Resident's Home To Be Rebuilt By Habitat
Friday 10 July 2015
Resident’s home to be rebuilt by Habitat
Every day, High River resident Rita Geerlinks drives by her property on Ninth Street SW to see the progress being made on her home that is being rebuilt by Habitat for Humanity Southern Alberta (HFHSA) chapter.
“I drive by a few times,” Geerlinks said. “I just have to see. I’m so excited.”
In November 2013, Habitat for Humanity offered to rebuild a home for Geerlinks that would be tailored to her specific health needs as she has multiple chemical sensitivity—a severe sensitivity to pollutants and chemical products.
However, after she was informed by Disaster Recovery Program (DRP) staff late last year that she will receive roughly $47,000 less than what was originally agreed upon, Geerlinks began to picket in downtown High River wearing a sandwich board that read “Shame on DRP.”
On April 16, Geerlinks received her final cheque after three months of picketing during the winter season and was able to use the funds to start the construction of her home, which began June 10.
“I’ve had hope all along from the time Habitat said they would help me in 2013 but it has been a long process to get here,” she said. “Now I can look forward and I just can’t wait.”
Within that program, Geerlinks’ home will be the biggest construction project and will be the only rebuild instead of a new build, said Graham McKerrell, director of construction with HFHSA.
“It’s different from our Habitat model of working with families,” McKerrell said. “However, as part of the renewal effort and our partnership with the Red Cross, this is right in line with helping somebody and I think it’s great.”
As Geerlinks’ multiple chemical sensitivity prohibits her from being in high-chemical environments, special materials have to be chosen for her home.
McKerrell said the house will be made with materials containing the least amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOC) possible.
“We’re using low-VOC paints and trying to reduce how much glues and adhesives we use in the construction process,” he said.
Solid wood cabinets will be used instead of the most common and inexpensive type of cabinet made of compressed chipboard, which often contains high amounts of glue.
However, as solid wood cabinets were cost-prohibitive, Habitat for Humanity worked with Calgary company Superior Cabinets to purchase a showroom product that has already been off-gassing, meaning trapped gasses have been emitting from the product.
“We’ve already purchased it and we put it in storage so by the time it goes into the house, most of the VOCs have off-gassed from that product,” McKerrell said. “It’s certainly not a construction methodology that we or most builders would employ but it’s certainly a great challenge for us.”
Although the property is not located on the flood fringe, McKerrell said the foundation has been raised to a height approved by the Town of High River.
Geerlinks said she is thankful for McKerrell and Habitat as they are making special considerations for her health.
“It means everything to me because they’re bending over backwards to help me, to put the extra work in,” she said. “I know they’re using the best products possible so it’s just a matter of waiting to see and trying it out.”
Geerlinks added she already has ideas of how her new home might look after construction. She is already looking forward to spending Christmas with her children and grandchildren.
“I think that will be just wonderful that my family can all be home for Christmas in a house that’s still on our old property,” she said. “That will become our home.”
The house is expected to be completed by late October 2015.
The above, with comments, originally appeared here.
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