Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie & Area (HFHSSMA) is officially certified as a living wage employer by the Ontario Living Wage Network (OLWN), making the organization the Sault’s third employer ensuring that all employees are earning at least the local living wage of $16.20 per hour.
“The OLWN is pleased to welcome Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie to the list of over 450 certified living wage employers in Ontario. It is fantastic to see employers implement changes to ensure employees are earning a steady and reliable living wage. Paying a living wage is a tremendous expression of respect for individual workers, their families, and the communities where they live” says Anne Coleman, Program Manager of the OLWN.
Founded in 2002, Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie & Area is a non-profit charitable housing organization that believes everyone deserves a decent place to live. While the organization is primarily powered by volunteers, Habitat employs ten paid staff members between its office and ReStore.
What is a “living wage”?
According to the OLWN, a living wage is the hourly wage a worker needs to earn to cover their basic expenses and participate in their community.
“[Workers] are facing impossible choices — buy food or heat the house, feed the children or pay the rent. The result can be spiraling debt, constant anxiety, and long-term health problems. In many cases it means that the adults in a family are working long hours, often at two or three jobs, just to pay for basic necessities. Employees that earn a living wage can face fewer of these stressors; employers that pay a living wage can be confident they are not keeping their employees in poverty,” explains OLWN’s website.
Why Habitat became certified
Katie Blunt, Executive Director at HFHSSMA, believes that becoming certified was an important way to put the organization’s mission, vision, and values into action:
“In consultation with our Board of Directors, we determined that it was contrary to our mission to pay our employees less than a living wage. As a charitable organization, we have a responsibility to not only talk the talk but walk the walk. This is exactly that. We are delivering on our mission through our Affordable Homeownership Program, but we are truly embodying our mission in consideration of our valued employees.”
Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie & Area’s ReStore is its keystone social enterprise, covering the organization’s operational expenses, including wages, and raising funds to build more affordable homes in our community. This allows 100% of monetary donations to be directed to Habitat’s Affordable Homeownership Program.
“The ReStore is vital to our mission because it is our biggest revenue generator. The success of the ReStore is significantly impacted by the efforts of our dedicated employees. We hope that employees recognize this transition to a living wage to be representative of how much we value employee contributions,” states Blunt.
Habitat has served fourteen Habitat Homeowner families since its inception and will be working with another family this year. Habitat’s fifteenth family will move into a fully accessible Habitat Home on Blake Avenue by the end of 2022.
As a non-profit, HFHSSMA relies on the generosity of volunteers, donors, and corporate sponsors to achieve its mission. If your business is interested in donating to, or sponsoring, the Blake Avenue build, please reach out to Chelsey Foucher, Fundraising & Marketing Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss this opportunity.