Buy a condo in Vancouver’s notorious real estate market and you’ll likely walk away with a lighter wallet and a sinking feeling you might have overspent. But what if you knew you were also providing a home for a family living beside a garbage dump in Cambodia, one of the world’s poorest countries?
With its official launch Tuesday, Vancouver-based World Housing hopes to make that a reality by partnering with real estate developers who want to donate a new home in the developing world for each unit sold here in the New World.
The project is the brainchild of Pete Dupuis and Sid Landolt, longtime partners in the luxury real estate business, who call it the world’s first one-for-one real estate gifting model. They both say that adequate housing can be life-changing for people struggling to survive in the impoverished slums that surround landfills.
“When you give someone a home, they become completely independent,” Dupuis said.
Since it launched in beta form last year, World Housing has already built 53 homes for families living at the Steung Meanchey dump in Phnom Penh. The 130-square-foot houses are all built on stilts, to protect them from flooding, and have access to shared bathhouses with toilets and running water.
“We’re trying to hit the U.N. standards for adequate housing,” Dupuis said. “When we built our first five homes in November, three of the families had never used a toilet.
The first Vancouver project to partner with World Housing will be Westbank Corp.’s 52-storey condo tower – designed by Danish architect Bjarke Ingels – at the north end of Granville Bridge. Dupuis expects projects in Toronto, Taipei and Honolulu will come on board later this year.
If everything goes according to plan, developers will commit to donate $3,000 from each condo sale to build a home in a dump community; $2,500 of that goes directly to construction and the remaining $500 goes to operations. World Housing isn’t a non-profit or a charity, but instead a “community contribution company” that functions thanks to a partnership with the private sector.