Utilizing the Past to Build an Affordable Future

Pictured: The Goetz and Crew families and friends ready to get to work at our Crew-Goetz Landing build site on Queensway.

On Saturday, October 19, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga was host to the Crew-Goetz Landing namesakes. This historic gathering saw the Crew and Goetz families coming out to help build affordable housing on the site named in their honour. This day also marked the first time that namesakes have joined Habitat HM in building homes.

This historic day marked a long journey that started in 1966 and has seen the transformation of Burlington’s original fire hall into the 18 affordable townhomes that are being built by Habitat today.

“When my Dad first bought this site, this was the original fire hall for Burlington. I just keep looking around thinking ‘Oh my Gosh, you wouldn’t have realized there was enough property to do what has been done here,’” said Diana Harrington (nee Crew).

The land went on to house a variety of industrial businesses, including Bob Crew Sr.’s oil and heating services.

When their parents passed away, the three Crew siblings, Bob, Bill, and Diana, knew exactly who to call as it had been a long-standing dream of their parents to build affordable housing in Burlington.

Diana explains, “My Dad and Mom were really community-minded people so to see this now from when we started is incredible. It really does mean a lot to know there are so many people in need that are waiting for these.”

Diana’s brothers weren’t able to join her for this family build, but they made sure she had family support and sent their sons to lend a hand and represent.

Pictured: Phil Harrington, Diana Harrington, Josh Crew, and Adam Crew

“Our family had a lot of history on this spot,” said Josh Crew, Bill’s Son. “To have more affordable housing in this area means a lot, because being able to have a safe space to come home to and call your own, pride of ownership and all those good things, can really spark and ignite and motivate people. I think it’s fantastic and we need more of it.”

Bob’s son Adam Crew, added “I hope the families like it, I really do.

“Since my Dad died, we’ve been trying to find a way to honour him. This Build Day as a family is definitely it,” said Diana, who encourages others to partner with Habitat: “Do it, do it, do it! You get so much in return.”

When asked for her thoughts on the naming of the build site after her family (Crew) and Susan Goetz, a long time Habitat HM advocate, Diana responded, “I mean, Susan, what a perfect person for this. We have seemed to bond through this, it’s awesome. We met at the ribbon cutting and then today it’s like we’re best friends,”

Pictured: Diana Harrington and Susan Goetz

Susan has been an influential community player throughout Habitat HM’s history. She has served as the Board Chair from 2004 until 2006, and has been volunteering with Habitat HM since 2000. Susan is a true representative of the heart and soul of Habitat. And to prove it, she was awarded the Habitat for Humanity Volunteer of the Year award in 2006 for her unwavering commitment to affordable housing.

Susan brought the cavalry along with her as she was joined by 14 friends and family members.

“It’s so good to be here,” said Susan’s daughter, Erin, “I’ve never been on a build before so it’s exciting!”

Susan invited one of the original board members from Habitat HM’s early days, Ed McMahon to join the event.  In those days, Ed served as the 6th Chair of the Board and currently holds the same title on the Habitat Canada National Board.

“When I was Chair of the Affiliate here, we were building 2 or 3 homes a year. But look where we are now with 18 homes, it’s unbelievable,” Ed expressed.

“This is just amazing and it’s a huge obstacle to overcome to get a piece of land this size; this is so hard to get. So, we were very fortunate that the Crew family partnered with us and big kudos to them,” said Susan.

Pictured: Susan Goetz, Fred Goetz, and Erin Goetz.

“This build is a dream come true, really. That’s what we [the original board] talked about so many times! We did all these blue-sky planning sessions and we talked about when we could build a multi-unit and it’s taken a long time to get here. We were very naive, I’m telling you! We were very idealistic and committed to it. When we hired John Gerrard [CEO, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga since 2012], that was the catalyst for what you see here today,” said Susan.

Their vision truly paid off as Habitat HM has built (or begun building) 72 homes in the region since our inception in 1999. We couldn’t have done it without our original board members’ relentless commitment to the Habitat mandate.

“I think this is going to be fabulous! I think that just having affordable housing is a problem for a lot of people, even people that have a decent income. I think it’s wonderful that people can have a place to live with their children that’s safe and part of a community,” expressed Sue, a friend of Susan’s.

Pictured: Susan’s friends Sue and Mary Jane doing some heavy-lifting.

“I think Habitat offers a long-term solution and people are going to build equity here, equity that they would never ever be able to have otherwise if they were renting. So, if we go back to Millard Fuller and Jimmy Carter always said that what people need is capital. People who are poor need capital. The only way that they can amass capital is through a vehicle like this. And they won’t all live here forever, some of them will move, they’ll take that capital and move somewhere else and we’ve had homeowners that have died and have been able to leave things for their children. So, it gives them that much of a step-up to fight poverty,” explains Susan.

Susan and Diana also encourage others to work with Habitat HM if they have the land available to build affordable housing, as the Crew family has done.

“This isn’t just a house, this is a community, we are building a community here. People don’t realize that their philanthropy will not only make a difference to themselves but to the community. But we have to find the right people that are engaged in our mission of providing housing. There’s lots of charities, right? We’re very generous in Canada, so if someone has something like this [the land] and this was their parents’ property, their secondary property that was in their estate and they talked to their tax people or their lawyers or whoever and talked to us and figured out that, ‘Okay, this is something that we can do that will benefit us and benefit our community, it’s something our parents had a desire for us to do,’ and everything came together. I’m sure there’s many, many people within our region of Halton and Mississauga that would be able to do the same thing. It’s just having them understand it. It can be complicated,” Susan expressed.

Ed adds, “This is the opportunity to build community in the most meaningful and practical and kind of feet-on-the-floor kind of way. That’s what we’re doing here. This is a small community that’s part of a bigger community that’s part of an even bigger community, and so on. So that work of community building never stops.”

On that sunny Saturday in October, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga brought together two families with deep roots in the past to help build the future, moving Habitat closer to giving 18 Burlington families the strength and independence that comes with affordable homeownership.

About Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga

Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga is a proud member of our national organization Habitat Canada and is one of 54 local Habitat affiliates across our country. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable home ownership. We provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. You can find out more about Habitat Canada at habitat.ca.

By: Rebecca Mitchell