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When Vancouver House is completed, 378 impoverished families will receive much-needed new homes
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In early November, more than 300 guests attended a reception to celebrate a unique bond between a luxury Vancouver developer and future home owners living in one of the world’s worst garbage dump communities.

Dubbed one of the largest social impact real estate ventures in Vancouver’s history, World Housing – a charitable organization that is empowering families living in the most notorious garbage dump sites with its one-on-one real estate gifting model – and Westbank Projects Corporation partnered together for the first one-for-one gifting commitment by a local developer.

This social venture partnership model means that for every condominium sold at its newest and most luxurious downtown development, Vancouver House, Westbank makes it possible for World Housing to build homes for impoverished families living in a third-world landfill communities.

“The vision of World Housing and its founders mirrors our own goal of affecting positive change in communities,” says Westbank president Ian Gillespie. “Westbank has always put strong emphasis on social responsibility. Ultimately it is buyers who will be the driving force of this model, and we hope through them we can set a new norm in residential development.”

And the developer has put its money where its mouth is. Because of Westbank’s commitment, 380 homes (and counting) will be constructed and gifted to families living in Cambodia’s Steung Meanchey Landfill.

The gifting is the result of both the Architect Series and Estates selling out at Vancouver House – a 59-storey tower that is set to rise at the north end of the Granville Street Bridge by 2018.

“A further eight will be gifted with the sale of penthouses, which were released for sale recently,” adds Gillespie.

How It All Started

World Housing was founded by Peter Dupuis and Sid Landolt, Vancouver luxury real estate marketers, after a chance encounter with Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes. In 2009, the 30-plus-year partners in S&P Destination Properties Ltd. were on a flight between Los Angeles to Vancouver when they sat beside Mycoskie.

“He told us that for every pair of TOMS shoes they sell, his company provides a new pair of shoes to a child in need,” recalls Dupuis.

That was the beginning of a four-year journey for the two philanthropists.

Last year, Dupuis and Landolt identified three garbage slum communities that they wanted to provide homes for: in Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s Steung Meanchey Landfill; Puerto Vallarta, Mexico’s Xtapa Landfill and Manila, Philippines’ Smokey Mountain Landfill.

To test their model, two families living in the Steung Meanchey Landfill were given homes. As of October 30, 190 impoverished families have been given homes, with many more under construction or in the pipeline.

The Homes

Built on stilts to protect them from flooding and rodents, each home is clad of metal and has 130 square feet of interior living space plus another 130 square feet of covered exterior space below the home. For each group of five homes, there is a shared bathhouse with toilets and running water.

The price of each home for developers is approximately US$2,900. Gillespie was quick to add the fee is not added to the cost of the condo, but rather comes from Westbank’s marketing fund.

“However, it is the buyer who ultimately drives the gifting because of their purchase,” says Gillespie.

In addition, donations made by 20,000 people who attended multi-media city-building exhibition Gesamtkunstwerk earlier this year generated enough money to build 400 additional homes for qualifying dump-dweller families.

According to Landolt, World Housing’s has made its mission to provide homes to 30,000 deserving people by 2020. (That translates to the construction of up to 5,000 new homes.)

“Right now we are in discussion with developers across North America to join our cause, one of which is in Vancouver,” he says, adding 25 homes in Steung Meanchey Landfill will be gifted this December. “In the first quarter of 2015, we are also going to be delivering homes in the Philippines.”

In another first, Landolt and Dupuis are looking into creating a program whereby Realtors can also contribute to World Housing.

“There is so much interest that we hope to roll out a direct contributions program by early next year,” adds Landolt.

World Housing homes not only put roofs over heads, they foster an environment where people can begin to overcome poverty and families can flourish without fear.

Although World Housing is a charitable venture, it is not a non-profit organization. Rather, it is designed as a CCC (community contribution company), which means it focuses on using profits to drive social change.

In February, Landolt told REW that “we are a for-benefit social change enterprise that generates revenue by connecting the buyers of developers’ projects to families in developing countries.”

Read the full article at Real Estate Weekly.