Habitat for inhumanity - Macleans.ca

Habitat for inhumanity


Burning up Twitter in Alberta today: a correspondent to the letters page of the St. Albert Gazette, news organ of Edmonton’s affluent northwestern suburb, denounces Habitat for Humanity as a horseman of the class apocalypse. This letter has more “Did they really say THAT?” moments than anything else you’ll read this year. (My personal favourite: “Like it or not, the children of St. Albert are high-standard children and have no place for low-income classmates.”)

One reader urges us “not to judge St. Albert by the couple that wrote this letter”. For my part, as a former citizen of Sturgeon County, I would never dream of dissuading you.


Habitat for inhumanity

  1. Like it or not, the children of St. Albert are high-standard children and have no place for low-income classmates.

    My Grandmother always told us that "we get too soon old, and too late smart".

    Chris & Karleena, I sincerely hope you live to be 150 years old – it's your only hope

    • Your Grandmother was a very wise woman, and I hope for Chris & Karleena's son that they get older and smarter before he does.

  2. As an Edmontonian, I have to say: when a lot of us think of St. Albert (and Sherwood Park, for that matter), these are the sort of people we think live there. Interesting to see it all laid out so baldly.

    • Stupid is as stupid does

    • Just as I do not put all the people of St Albert in the same light as the Perrys do not put myself and
      my neighbours in Sherwood Park in that same light. Remember when pointing fingers that 3 are
      pointing back at yourself.

  3. This can't be serious, can it? Is it an April Fool's joke gone horribly wrong?

    Mind Boggling.

  4. "we deserve it"????????

    I hope Richard Argent is right, and this is either a poorly-thought-out April Fool's joke, or meant to be ironic. Otherwise, it's just too depressing.

  5. I wonder how the newfies in the oil patch feel about this? Kind of their world in a nutshell. I also wonder if the letter writer is a bureacrat.

    • Not in St. Albert they're not.

      • The writer claims to have moved his business to St. Albert, so I would say no.

  6. @Richard_____Could be, but you never know with someone who claims to live in a development with a welcome sign that reads "where priviledge has it's place". From their facebook pages they look like overfed white trash with so many kids you just have to assume they're bible thumpers.

    • I guess thumping it beats reading it… but seriously, for the sake of Christianity, this atheist sincerely hopes that these two classy St.Albertans DON'T consider themselves to be good Christians, because that would just be too much!

  7. I realize the temptation is to criticize the letter-writing family and then pat oneself on the back for being far more virtuous but the St. Albert family has as many points right as wrong.

    Wrong. High income areas are not free of drugs and crime. A SE Sask city with the highest income per capita in the province also has to do regular drug sweeps in the high school. The amount of vandalism and theft was also surprisingly high.
    Right. Well, low income housing does come with problems. There is a higher incidence of cluttered yards addiction and violence (often not the approved residents but relatives and friends). Go to a few social housing projects and see for yourself. I lived near some low-income housing and the police visited those duplexes pretty much every weekend.
    Maybe kids with lots of money and no responsibility have similar problems to those with no money and no responsibility.
    BTW, in my experience, the ones who are the biggest supporters of social justice are also the ones who will quietly prevent any such development in their areas. Quite similar to the way the green limo liberals of Mass. protested the Cape wind project. Is there a lot of Habitat for Humanity projects in, say, Rosedale.

    • I agree with some of your points, but have one small quibble. Rosedale is probably not the best example because it is reasonably close to some urban housing developments, being in downtown Toronto. The fact that Canadian cities have developed with wealthy neighbourhoods next to lower income ones is probably at least one reason we have had fewer problems than in US cities, where wealthier and poorer people rarely see each other.

      • Yes, I realize that cities tend to have a doughnut effect – rich cores, inner city poor and middle class suburbs. But I would bet that any proposed development that caters to the nearby poor ( InSite facility, halfway house or social housing) within the safe cocoon of the wealthy and well-connected would never make it past the planning stage.

    • While you might be right regarding some challenges associated with low-income earners this is not a traditional 'affordable housing project' it is a Habitat for Humanity building, where the occupants own the home, help build it and usually take great pride in it.

      • And what you fail to realize that this is not an ordinary Habitat for Humanity project! We're not talking about an "infill" of 2 or 3 duplexes that fit in with the rest of a vibrant neighbourhood. Oh no. Habitat for Humanity has partnered with a company called Apollo Developments to try and squeeze 58, 2 story row houses onto a 3 acre parcel of land that was originally earmarked for a school!

        If that wasn't enough, only 14 or 15 of these units would actually belong to Habitat for Humanity. The rest, would be sold by Apollo Developments to potential buyers who would be afforded the SAME mortgage treatment as those who actually qualified for Habitat assistance.

        The sad part of this story is that NOBODY seems to want to sully the name of Habitat for Humanity by printing the truth!

    • "BTW, in my experience, the ones who are the biggest supporters of social justice are also the ones who will quietly prevent any such development in their areas."

      Oh. So the Perrys are expressing a liberal viewpoint, LC?

      Way to pull the 'ol switcheroo! It's the libs who are known for their intolerance, who resist social justice!
      Black really IS white in your world.

  8. Good points, hosertohoosier. I'd add that one of the virtues of projects like building Habitat for Humanity houses in St. Albert is that they bring smaller groups of low-income kids into middle-class neighbourhoods. One of the most effective ways in which social capital gets shared is through the public school system, and kids making friends with each other there. Poorer kids can have something to aspire to, and richer kids may even learn that there are better ways to handle poverty than hysterically isolating oneself from it.
    And, like a lot of people have said above, anyone who thinks rich kids are less likely to do drugs hasn't got a clue.

  9. I think you may be missing a rather large factor – family composition. The majority of families, past and present, that overcome poverty are stable, married, two-parent households. Outreach and social assistance have been unable to compensate for lack of fathers. I doubt there is a way to go back to traditional family structures but their benefits should not be ignored.

    The other problem is the welfare trap, where the benefits of not working exceed the benefits of employment.

    To shift blame to the wealthier neighbors for the failure of the welfare system and broken homes is social science nonsense.

  10. I can't even believe that people like this exist. Disgusting.

  11. I was once, a long time ago, a high income primary school child in a St. Albert school. My parents moved away from Edmonton largely because of the appalling quality of what passed for public education there.

    Amongst other crimes, I was criticized by my teachers for the crime of "reading books ahead of my authorized grade level."

    So I'd take any comments about St. Albert, education and intelligence with a grain of salt. Not least because the kids trapped in their prescribed reading level in the mid-1970s would now be old enough to have written that letter. :-)

    • Brian, when we were going to school, reading books ahead of your authorized grade was commonplace, because there was no set curriculum – even in Edmonton – between the west & north ends of town! It was far worse, in an outlying town, where I was chastised to reading books 2 whole grade levels above my classmates. I didn't have the heart to tell my teacher that those were the books we were using, before we moved there….

  12. To judge all of St. Albert by these two losers would be like judging…

    …all Habitat for Humanity beneficiaries the way these two losers have;

    …all of Quebec by the two losers who went all blackface at a Habs game.

  13. I grew up in St Albert and I'd like to move back – EVERYONE I know from St Albert is absolutely horrified by this letter and feel terribly for their poor kid. These people will be run out of town.

    • I am glad to hear it.

  14. Even if these people are committed to their beliefs, surely they must have realized the reaction they would get from this letter. It's mind-boggling. It seems to me they're not as smart as they think they are.

    • That video is so strange. On the one hand, it's got the "villagers get what's coming to them" vibe. On the other hand, it turns out that the woman they're trying to burn actually IS a witch. A powerful, cannibalistic, witch capable of raising and commanding an army of undead skeletons.

      While ultimately unsuccessful, it turns out burning her was probably the right idea.

  15. "Crackheads aren't very dangerous, because even if they have an incentive to participate in crime, they have serious deficits in their ability to do so."

    Have you ever disagreed with a crackhead? They are not sane people, and can be incredibly violent. Tread carefully.

    • Just avoid them – its not very hard. Moreover, it isn't like crack gives people super-strength – it makes people malnourished and uncoordinated.

      • Relocating low income housing to middle income neighborhoods always results in the middle class moving. White flight is quite well documented. BTW, how exactly do you go about "Breaking down the social barriers between communities of different means". Are there any successful models of this or is it abstract ideas from academia. In the real world -schools, workplaces, social settings- people tend to mingle with those they have things in common. I commend your idealism but you seem quite naive.

        • Relocation doesn't always result in "white flight" type phenomena – it certainly hasn't in most Canadian cities. Here is a map of Toronto, subdivided by average income. Note that many of the poorest parts of the city are actually right next to some of the richest.

          Certainly people self-segregate to a large degree, but there are some definite exceptions. People tend to go to public schools, join sports leagues (or play games with others in parks), and churches that are in their local neighbourhood. All of those organizations are free (or almost-free) to join, and involves a reasonably high level of social interaction between both kids and parents. There are also other aspects of public spaces that can facilitate lower-level interactions – from public transit, to who serves whom in restaurants and bars.

          This isn't rooted in any academic theory, it is rooted in what I have observed working well or not working well in my own life. People (especially young people) have common interests and hobbies that are not defined by their tax bracket. They may play the same video games, they may play soccer together in the park (if you bring a soccer ball, you can usually get people to join your game), or they may fall in love. None of these interests are particularly related to income (even video games are very cheap if you burn them). In order to build those interactions, however, you need to create spaces where rich and poor at least see each other.

  16. What in the hell were these people thinking? Were they trying to get run out of town? Did somebody lose a bet? My God! They've got about airing their views in such a public and shameful way that even if anybody did agree with them, there is no way they could publicly agree. Sadly though, they'll find a community of trust-fund babies out there who will view them as martyrs for the cause.

  17. Having worked on a Habitat build, I can say without reservation, that this guy is talking out of his anal orifice.

    • Greg, when you said you worked on a Habitat build, was it the kind originally proposed for the site in St Albert? If so, you would have been working to help Apollo Developments pad their bank account. Remember only 15 of the 55+ units were allotted to Habitat Recipients. Also, as stated on numerous occasions, the homes being built by Apollo/Habitat were more costly than some pre-owned properties in that same neighbourhood.

  18. I sure am glad I don't have to let my kids mingle with theirs. Although my crew might teach them a few good manners and a bit about being "your brother's keeper." Oh well, Do until others as you hope they will do unto you.

  19. Again I am compelled to say – this is exactly the kind of housing anyone should welcome into their neighbourhood. Habitat for Humanity homes are sold to working families, trying to get a "hand up, not a hand out." It's a slogan, but it's true. They are hard-working people who live and play and work and function just like everybody else. They do NOT have kids of privilege, which is a good thing! You cannot paint everybody with the same brush, but for the most part, these kids are learning the value of a dollar, and the importance of a hard day's work from parents who know plenty about both. I believe the sad and ignorant writers of this letter have children who would be better for associating with some of these Habitat for Humanity home BUYERS!!! God. You people just make me sick!

  20. In the 1890's (if I recall correctly) an angry mob of St. Albert residents descended on a dwelling built beside the Sturgeon River, which runs through the centre of the town, destroyed the dwelling and threw it and it's contents (and possibly the owner) into the river as "undesirable". Apparently this was not an isolated incident… and was reported in the Edmonton Bulletin of the day and by a NWMP Inspector from Fort Saskatchewan.

  21. "What I was trying to say was this development needs to be thought out more. … I didn't intend on discriminating against low-income families."
    Edmonton Journal April 5, 2010

    the fact of the matter is that these people (and/or the St. Albert Gazette) have committed a hate crime by disciminating against an identifiable group.

    • Sounds like you're trying to stifle the debate, Bob, which wouldn't help us work towards a solution. I'm honestly grateful the Gazette published Chris and Karleen's opinions, however much I find their views distasteful. Many commentators have expressed disbelief at the sentiments expressed in the Perrys' letter; I was dumfounded, too. But without hearing the Perrys' viewpoint, how else would we know of the depth of people's intolerance?

    • well Bob, thank heavens for Human Rights Commissions.

      Guess I'll deserve the noose if I suggest that lower education levels usually correlate to higher crime rates (btw – is that permissable?)

      You appear as much a moron as Chris and Karleena Perry.

  22. My sister & I both worked for several years at St Albert Centre mall & the Grandin Mall & were on the receiving end several times of the snobbery of the Chanel-clad matrons who inhabit the 3,000 sq ft homes up on Snob Hill of St Albert. We used to laugh about it. We lived outside of the city in a small town so we were not part of their supposed "class." And when you caught one of their priviged darlings stealing from your store, well, that of course never happened.

  23. I find the so-called apology to be a joke. In the apology, Mr. Perry speaks of populations density, the size of the development etc, and says those were his concerns. Funny, that's not what "This development is a bad idea for St. Albert for both current residents and the people who will occupy the new development. Current residents will have to deal with the likeliness of children influenced by crime in our schools and adults in our community" sounds like to me!

    The apology is just a lame attempt to cover up his obvious sense of entitlement.

    And no, I'm not one of those 'low-income' people who would trash his neighbourhood, although my family was NOT well off many years ago when I was a child. I just can't believe someone would have the audacity to say such garbage, never mind have it printed in a newspaper!

  24. Well, the biggest problem here is that you just can't fix stupid. His apology is as ignorant as the letter.

  25. i think mr. and mrs, perry obviously did get their point across…it is very clear what they were trying to say…as a citizen of st albert for 20 years …i am glad to say they are not from here…i think their is alot of back peddling going on with the apology…oh, oh they might of screwed things up for their welcome to st albert and their poor children who have to go to school and face the public on tuesday…poor things

  26. This is so not the St Abert I know. Yes, the standard of living and income is high, but many of the people that my wife and I associate with are generous, charitable people with a global perspective. Hiis comments about drugs are laughable – the rich kids in St. Albert with their access to money are by far the biggest drug users in town not the kids from the lower income families. Mr. Perry your comments sicken and disgust me. Please consider relocating out of my community.

  27. LOL

    Not much more to add, other than pointing out that a dumb, untraveled, white bread hick from SchmengeVille knows less about the world he lives in than my cat.

    Sounds alot like Canada overall really.

  28. How sad that this guy doesn't realize how tacky he is. For anyone who doesn't know a lot about Edmonton and surrounding suburbs: St Albert is the kind of place where junior vice president types and bureaucrats go to live. They have a nice steady income. They are often mortgaged.
    There are several neighbourhoods in Edmonton proper that house the ubber rich but their homes are almost average in appearance.
    What this fellow fails to acknowledge is that Habitat for Humanity is not for freeloaders; the organization requires residents to put in many hours of sweat equity; the owners have to be employed and they have to make payments for the purchase of their homes. They espouse a strong work ethic and cooperation with neighbours and community.

    • And what you fail to realize is that Habitat for Humanity is not planning a regular build in the Akinsdale area. If they were (planning a normal build), there'd be no problem. What raised the ire of residents in Akinsdales is the fact that Habitat for Humanity has partnered with a for-profit company to squeeze a 58 unit, 2 story row house project on a piece of land that is surrounded by single family homes.

      Even though they (HfH) are getting the land for FREE and most of the labour and materials for FREE, the head of HfH still complained that building anything less than 58 units on that property was not "financially viable"?

      In our books, if this is what Habitat for Humanity has become, they have strayed too far from their roots to be considered "non-profit".

  29. When I was a kid and because of my rural location I had to go to a city school and was treated badly by the “rich kids” because I did not dress in designer jeans. I look back and wish I went to a school that had an average population closer to my parents income level. I wonder how many of the people that are upset with Perry are the ones that treated me like crap when I was a kid.

    • I too was criticized but 'rich' kids….but in the end it made me stronger and smarter. It also made me aware of how important compassion & empathy are and those are learnings I pass on to every child I meet. Those rich people from your past probably learned valuable lessons from you too, and that's what's important – to have a well rounded society who benefits from each other as opposed to the elitist status these people are trying to establish.

  30. I remember almost 20 years ago I was driving through St. Albert to pick up my sister at thanksgiving and there was a backlog of traffic at the intersection. When we reached the corner and made our left hand turn, we saw that traffic was backed up because a group of 30 something men had pulled a senior from his vehicle and were pounding him out and all the good people of St. Albert sat in their cars and watched. I was pregnant at the time, but my spouse and I stopped to assist and he jumped out of the car and went to work at helping the poor old guy and pounding them out. Only then did other people begin to attempt to help. The guys wife was horrified and stood by helplessly. That forever changed my view of St. Albert. Would the police have made it there in time for him?

  31. I have to say that I was just sickened and then appalled to read this letter in the St. Albert Gazette. I was sickened because my family lives in St. Albert. We have lived here almost two years now. We chose this community because it was smaller than Edmonton, but was close to Edmonton (Edmonton and St. Albert have a tiny line separating the two). When we moved here, we experienced no issues with our children making friends. The comments made by Mr. Perry were so elitist that I wondered why the Gazette even published this horrible letter. I am glad I do not know this family personally. I am also glad that my children do not know his children.
    I really do hope as many people as possible refuse to do any more business with his company, which I have yet to find the name of.
    I just don't know what else to say about this family. Homes in Kingswood can sell for as little as the low $500 000, but can run into the several million dollar range. Some homes have elevators (yes, I said elevators).
    Not all St. Albertans feel this way, even if it seems many are opposed to Habitat fo Humanity. I just shake my head at this whole situation. It is making our community look horrible, when it isn't.

  32. (PART 2) What I want to really express to people is that at the core of his letter was a comment about the development. Please readers, research what this was all about. The residents of the neighbourhood in question were not against the Habitat 15 homes…many were against the other 43 homes a private developer was going to build (and profit off of)…all 58 units were around 800-1000 sq ft, have no front or back yards, no basements, no garages, and many would back onto drainage ditches. The development was too big for the space available. The developer wanted to sell the 43 units for a "bargoon" price of $250K when (at the time) 58 other MLS listings below that price were in St. Albert that would have offered families much better living accomodations. It is awful that this private developer would profit off of the coattails and good image of H4H (a worthy charity that I have participated in builds for). The private developer was also the past chair of the Edmonton H4H who resigned his position two weeks before his "new development company" received the contract to build this development…very suspicious.

  33. (PART 1) I don't agree with Mr. Perry's comments, but people have the right to express their opinions. I lived in Edmonton as an adult for 20 yrs saving $$ to move to St. Albert 1.5 yrs ago…I saw many good things about St. Albert. I liked that the schools had room for their kids and did not have to resort to modular trailers to house students, I liked the scholastic school results, the green spaces, parks, etc. Don't get me wrong…there are things I don't like – paying almost $4000/yr for property taxes for a $300,000 house (modest 1300 sq foot bung in an older neighbourhood), or the high transit costs (they charge two rates, one for travel in St. Albert, and one for commuting to Edmonton), or the high utilities, or the overall higher cost of living…but to me the benefits outweighed these negatives.

    • We’re not sure what part of St. Albert you in, but driving by many schools here, one can see PLENTY of modular trailers housing students.

  34. Chris Perry's company ALL HEART JANITORIAL AND OIL FIELD CONSULTING has an owner who has NO heart. He is a shell of a person.

  35. now the rest of canada will see what ALBERTA is all about. they have nerve to comment on other PROV.start looking at your own PROV.

  36. Wealth can be a temporary condition. Don't the Perrys know that fortunes can be lost as easily as they were made? Commerce requires customers, goodwill is an immeasurable asset; the Perrys have inflicted terrible damaged to theirs. What happens if they suddenly found themselves on the wrong side of the median income line. The backpeddling just makes them look even more ignorant.

  37. St.A's most famous product – Hint: Single Mother Hint 2: modest dwelling in Grandin Estates or Gardens (Condos) – Jerome Iginla!!!

  38. i wonder how many Bank Ex. and CEO live there.i guess there children will learn to rob the world

  39. Regrettably St Albert is well known as a bigoted community already. Recently the Catholic School system fired a popular teacher because he was transgendered. It didnt fit into their narrow view of dogma.
    This latest letter just prolongs the mood of this snobbish community. Very sad that they dont care for other less fortunate people. But the food bank is busy it seems. But they dont talk about that in St Albert.

  40. Boycott this moron's business. What a total ignorant ass he and his wife must be.I feel for their kids and the hell they will have to pay.

  41. I wonder if Mr and Mrs Perry are still employed after all of this?

  42. I'm well off. I have always been well off. I freely admit it. My parents were always well off too and they gave me everything I wanted and didn't ask for much in return, except for a daughter that would be a decent, law-abiding individual willing to contribute back to society. They would have been appalled at the sentiment expressed in Mr. and Mrs. Perry's letter. As I am. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs, but children are impressionable – and Mr. and Mrs. Perry have a few children. You have to wonder what type of values are being taught in a household that clearly believes "low-income children" are not and cannot be "high standard children". You have to wonder what type of cynicism is responsible for the assumption that your offspring can only make 'friends' by flashing wealth and possessions around. Perhaps being well-off will make my posting less weighty than some others on this site, but my parents taught me that money is no substitute and, in fact, carries little worth when placed next to an indivdual's integrity and compassion. I cannot imagine raising children any differently – I cannot imagine what the Perry's are instilling in their children.

  43. If you really want a story, how about reporting on the fact that Habitat for Humanity appears to have strayed from their original roots?

    How about the fact that HfH is no longer interested in "infill" that matches the surrounding neighbourhood, or that they seem more interested in dragging down solid neighbourhoods instead of rejuvenating them?

    If you don't believe me, take a look at the 2 lovely duplexes that were recently completed for Habitat applicants in the subdivision of North Ridge in St. Albert. Then, compare them to the 58 unit 2 story monstrosity they want to build on 3 acres in Akinsdale, St. Albert.

    Now that's a news story NOBODY seems to have the guts to write about!

    • Beware!  Habitat for Humanity is untouchable.  Anyone who criticizes their motives will be flogged.

      By the way, it is now 2012 and Habitat for Humanity is STILL looking for applicants in St. Albert.  So much for the “dozens” in need.  I wonder who tried to sell everyone that bill of goods and will they be held accountable?

  44. Have you ever considered the larger picture, Mr. and Mrs. Perry? If we were to trace any family's lineage back to its beginnings , yours included, the family history would be rife with stories of past generations ' financial windfalls, their successes and their amazing good luck in the face of great adversity. Surely there would be just as many stories detailing the twists and turns of fate and lapses in judgement that lead other generations to financial ruination in the blink of an eye.
    Now a middle aged couple, my spouse and I were raised in low income families in the 1950's. We are offended by your letter, and unmoved by your subsequent 'apology'. Just as we are now winding down our careers in real estate and law enforcement, we believe that the young people living in low income housing today can achieve and prosper. Don't be to quick to judge them, there for the grace of God… C.Bogatin and G. Ellert, St. Albert Alberta

  45. There is STILL a chance to fight city council and HfH to bring decent affordable housing to 70 Arlington Drive.

    HfH recently revamped their plans – by just a little bit. City council is prepared to ‘receive' and ‘accept' HfH's revamped plans – without giving Akinsdale residents the dues they deserve. Our current Mayor has already informed some of his more impressionable potential candidates that they won't have to deal with this sad situation, because it will all be over before the election.

    All we've been asking for is, IF, as Mayor Crouse says – something must be built, then let it be 2 or 3 duplexes to run parallel with Arlington Drive that will FIT IN with the rest of the neighbourhood. Consider scattering the rest of these affordable homes throughout St. Albert, instead of creating something that doesn't fit the area or the idea behind HfH.

  46. Part II:
    Another thing to consider is the fact that condo/townhouse prices are FALLING throughout the city. So the question begged to be asked is who are these “affordable homes” meant to house, when they will cost more than the ones that are already built?

    In any case, we're still willing to fight for our little neighbourhood, even with the deck being stacked against us. Hopefully, others will stand up and finally see what kind of dirty underhanded situation we've had to deal with for all this time now.

  47. Just an update for all you people out there who may still believe that St. Albert is populated by a bunch of wealthy fools who were raised with no values or morals.

    It is now 2012 and Habitat for Humanity is STILL looking for applicants in St. Albert. In fact, they’ve “sucked” another quarter mil from the affordable housing coffers and they’re STILL looking for applicants who qualify for these homes. 

    House prices have dropped considerably and the qualifications Habitat is looking for may easily meet bank criteria.  So, for the price quoted for 1 zero lot line, basic Habitat home, one can move into a very nice upgraded townhouse or condo with a garage.  AND, if you keep your eyes and ears open – you may even find an upgraded single family home with a garage!

    So much for the “dozens” in need. I wonder who tried to sell everyone that bill of goods and will they be held accountable?  Do you hear us Mr Nikolai & Mayor Crouse and Council Members?

    Habitat for Humanity is untouchable. Anyone who criticizes their motives will be flogged.

    • everbody knows habitat is the property value anti-crist. the media subdues and witholds the news and twists the habitat “facts” i usually do the same with money when the media wants it