November is Edmonton Housing Month, with the objective of advancing the cause of affordable housing in the Capital Region. We truly believe that a home is a basic right – it’s that simple. With affordable housing as an option to our citizens, they are able to thrive in so many other areas of their life.
While we have many supporters and partners to be grateful for when it comes to affordable housing initiatives, we are especially grateful for innovative and compassionate builders who lend their expertise to the field. Peter Amerongen of Habitat Studio has been championed for his work on the North Glenora affordable housing project owned and managed by Right at Home Housing Society. The building became the largest net-zero energy multi-family building in Canada with Habitat Studio’s innovative and environmental design. More importantly, it housed 16 families from various cultural backgrounds, including Syrian refugees, at affordable housing rates. December 2018 will mark the one year anniversary of the families being in their new home, and it has already become a life-changing endeavour – not only through lifting these families out of poverty, but also by building a sense of community in the heart of North Glenora and enrolling approximately 35 new students into Coronation elementary school.
We took the opportunity to speak with Peter about his experience with this project that garnered international attention. Read our brief interview with Peter and his take on why building affordable housing is so important beyond simply just being another work project.
Right at Home: As a home builder, why is it important for you to associate yourself with affordable housing projects as we reflect during Edmonton Housing Month?
Peter Amerongen: Safe affordable housing is the cornerstone of a healthy life. Without a decent place to live it is almost impossible to cope with many of life’s challenges. It is also essential to the dignity of all of us: the people who need it and anyone with a sense of justice.
R: Describe one or two of the affordable housing projects you’ve worked on for Edmonton not-for-profit housing groups. What is the benefit you receive from projects like this?
Amerongen: The one that stands out is the North Glenora Net Zero Townhouses. It is rare to be able to combine so many good things in one project. We helped provide beautiful well built, affordable housing that produces more energy than it uses for over one hundred new Canadians from distressed parts of the world while saving the neighbourhood school across the street and enlivening the neighbourhood. How fun is that!
R: Did anything surprise you that made this project unlike any other you’ve worked on?
Amerongen: I was surprised at how smoothly construction can go when everyone is excited about a great project and pulling in the same direction. I would absolutely do it again if given the opportunity.
Conscientious home builders like Peter and his team, in partnership with organizations like Right At Home Housing Society, are creating new opportunities in our local neighborhoods one hammer and one nail at a time. What may just seem like a part of their career on the surface has a lasting effect on generations to come. As we reflect for Edmonton Housing Month, we recognize that through compassionate partnership in building affordable homes, we can build thriving communities, reduce the hardships of poverty, and change lives.