In April 2014, Vancouver, Canada-based real estate company Westbank Corp became World Housing’s first partner and the world’s first one-for-one home gifting condominium high-rise.
“The vision of World Housing and its founders mirrors our own goal of effecting positive change in communities and, I know, holds meaning for buyers. Westbank has always put strong emphasis on social responsibility. Through this initiative, we hope to set a new norm in residential development and inspire buyers, who will ultimately be the driving force.” – Westbank CEO Ian Gillespie
Westbank’s 375-residence Vancouver House became our first project. This being our inaugural venture, we weren’t entirely sure of all the things that needed doing and the order in which they needed to be done, but we rolled up our sleeves and got busy—extremely busy!
We began with a presentation to the Westbank team to ensure that everyone was fully versed in our vision and mission. We also spoke to them about our belief that real estate buyers, when given the right opportunity, would choose to house the world’s poorest families at the same time as housing their own families. Our first home building project was for families living in the Steung Meanchey slum community in Cambodia. Our local building partner in this venture was Cambodian Children’s Fund. More presentations followed including in-depth educational sessions with the sales team from S&P Real Estate, Vancouver House’s international brokerage partner. This was followed by informal sessions with local real estate brokers and agents.
When Westbank’s Gesumtkuntswerk exhibition opened in the spring of 2014, we supplied a scale model of a typical WH house and accompanying wallboard text to bring the public into our vision. When the exhibition closed and the sales gallery opened in July 2014, the model and wallboard remained on display.
The combined efforts of Westbank, S&P, the real estate community and World Housing caused Vancouver House to sell-out by the end of September 2014.
On November 4, 2014, well over 100 Vancouver House buyers and real estate professionals attended an event hosted by us at the Vancouver House sales gallery, which received extensive media coverage. At the event we celebrated the emotional links that had been forged between buyers and the recipient families—a celebration of the mutual benefits implicit in social change.
Immediately following the Buyer’s event, members of Westbank’s team, buyers, and members of the sales team visited Cambodia to personally gift the homes that they helped to create, and to visit World Housing’s operations in Phnom Penh.
In April 2015 we were thrilled to tell Vancouver House home owners about our progress in building homes in Cambodia and by June we’d completed 300. We continue to update Vancouver House owners as to the progress of the building, and the success of the communities.
As a result of this incredible collaboration, to date we’ve built 320 homes out of a total of 375, forming 24 communities and housing 1,500 people with another 375 people by the time we complete.
Thanks to our partnership with Westbank, hundreds of families now live in a safe, secure, life changing home.