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The challenges facing Habitat for Humanity Kamloops

Its ReStore closed because of a downturn in donations and revenue, problems with break-ins and vagrancy and staff and volunteer turnover
Habitat ReStore closed
Due to various reasons, Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore has been moved from Kamloops to Salmon Arm.

Habitat for Humanity Kamloops is in a period of transition, according to executive director, Bill Miller.

Limited land supply and high costs are posing challenges, including limiting opportunities to do projects in Kamloops. Habitat builds homes for those in need, with the eventual owners chipping in with sweat equity.

In addition to rethinking its ReStore — the home and building supply store that accepts and resells new and used building materials — the organization is looking at an alternative home ownership model, focusing on multi-family development opportunities and mulling a rental program.

“There’s a lot of impacts to what we’re doing and how we do it,” Miller said. “As I said earlier, the models have to change.”

KTW sat down with Miller following closure of the ReStore in Kamloops. The ReStore, previously located in the old Penny Pinchers building at Tranquille Road and Eighth Street in North Kamloops, is a fundraising arm of Habitat for Humanity.

Miller said it closed because of a downturn in donations and revenue, problems with break-ins and vagrancy (a man recently entered the building wielding an axe), staff and volunteer turnover and desire to find a permanent location with an adapted ReStore business model. Habitat for Humanity’s office remains in the building for now.

Miller told KTW the organization is not in financial trouble and that it remains committed to Kamloops.

He said Habitat for Humanity still has a classic car raffle, upon which it relies for fundraising, and receives grants, private donations and lower prices negotiated for materials and labour. A motorcycle raffle helps fund a handyman program that launched a couple of years ago, which provides free home repairs.

Habitat for Humanity is currently wrapping up homes for the Neskonlith Indian Band and is about to start a 21-unit project in Salmon Arm, Miller said. The last project in Kamloops was a duplex on Westsyde Road in 2019.

“We don’t have any land here,” Miller said.

“The problem that we run into in Kamloops is we can’t find a suitable piece of property to do what we want to do.”

Miller said the organization is headquartered in Kamloops, but its coverage area also includes Princeton, Lytton, Lillooet, Merritt, Prince George, McBride, Lumby, Enderby, Armstrong, Salmon Arm and Revelstoke.

“We’ve always been based here. We’ll always be based here,” he said. “We’d love to do something. We had a number of opportunities, at least we were exploring a number of opportunities.”

One of those includes examining the feasibility of helping another non-profit in Kamloops with a mixed commercial residential project.

“So, we’ll see how that goes,” Miller said. “Nothing to announce yet because we’re in the very initial stages of the dialogue.”

Product from the local ReStore has gone to Salmon Arm, but Miller said the ReStore will return to Kamloops in a different capacity in the future. He said it will be a hybrid online-brick and mortar operation, include agreements with national retailers to provide consistent inventory and include pickup and delivery services.

Miller said Habitat for Humanity is looking for a permanent location, preferably land upon which it can build. It previously moved from Southgate to North Kamloops, but the Penny Pinchers property will eventually be redeveloped.

Miller said the model used in the past to build affordable homes is also in flux. He said the past model involved the organization getting materials and labour donated. The house would be built and Habitat for Humanity would carry the first mortgage for the value of the house at zero per cent interest, with payments limited to 30 per cent of a family’s gross income. He said the organization is now looking at developing and selling homes at cost.

He said that, due to the current price of land, it costs between $600,000 to $700,000 to build a single-family home.

“If we carry 100 per cent of the financing, then we have to come up with $600,000 or $700,000 per house,” he said.

In addition to the high cost of land, labour, materials and interest rates have also risen, Miller noted.

At the same time, as the organization feels increased housing costs, more people need help for that same reason.

“All the time,” Miller said when asked how often the organization hears from people in need of help securing affordable housing.

“Every day, all week.”

Habitat for Humanity Kamloops can be found online at