Since Day 1, REX Homes has had a deeply rooted focus on giving back by building homes for people in need, but one partner – World Housing – has grown right alongside them and been an important part of the REX Homes story.
On Tuesday, Aug. 11, REX Homes Co-Founder, President and COO Lynley Sides did an IG Live discussion with World Housing Managing Director Don McQuaid on the REX Homes Instagram page.
The 25-minute discussion highlighted how World Housing started as well as its relationship with REX Homes and its latest project – the Mannkind Girls 2 Grannies Village in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
During the IG Live chat, McQuaid said the organization got its start when co-founder Pete Dupuis wound up on a plane from Los Angeles to Vancouver seated next to Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS Shoes.
“They spent the whole flight talking about this one-for-one gifting model and they got off the plane and thought, ‘I think we can do that for real estate,” McQuaid said.
Dupuis, along with co-founder and longtime business partner Sid Landolt, then started World Housing in 2013. World Housing’s first partner – Canadian-based real estate company Westbank Corp – helped them achieve their first one-for-one gifting model with real estate in 2014 through its sale of 375 homes in Vancouver House to help World Housing build 375 homes in Cambodia.
In 2015, World Housing did it again but this time it was a little bit different – a community for a community. San Diego’s Bosa Development partnered with World Housing to build a community in the Philippines, using purchases from its Pacific Gate residential building in San Diego to fund it.
“Once we completed that, we really knew we had something,” McQuaid said. “How do we take this to the real estate community as a tool for the real estate community to really connect the very top of the real estate industry to the very bottom of the real estate industry?”
And in stepped REX Homes.
“Frankly, that’s how we met you guys in 2016,” McQuaid said. “You wanted a purpose-driven company and said for every 50 homes, and you guys built three homes that year, and built three homes the year after, three homes the year after that and this year, you’re building 20, so what does that say about REX?”
We’re growing really fast,” Sides said with a laugh.
During the live chat, Sides told McQuaid that on the very first day REX Homes was founded, they knew they wanted to do something similar to what World Housing was doing.
“We had the idea of doing something like this, but we didn’t know how we were going to go about it,” she said, “but we knew we wanted to build in a way of helping people who needed housing somewhere in the world, but clearly that’s not our core competency so your partnership has enabled us to fulfill the social mission that we talked about literally on Day 1 of Rex’s founding.
“You enable us to find the people who need the homes and actually get those homes built. It’s a very important part of our model and our business goals so we appreciate that very much.”
McQuaid said that their partnership with REX Homes has helped to shape their company’s mission.
“Because there’s incredible organizations like yours that want to do good while doing well, as we like to say, we just thought we could become that corporate social responsibility department that start-up companies can’t really afford to have,” he said. “We are like an outsourced CSR department for you guys and for other companies.”
World Housing’s current project – the Mannkind Girls 2 Grannies Village – is one that REX Homes is currently supporting through the construction of 20 homes.
Sides pointed out the uniqueness of the project.
“I’m curious, what prompted you to take on a project that is more holistic like that in its approach to helping people there?” she asked.
McQuaid said World Housing’s projects have always been holistic and they have been fortunate enough to partner with the Cambodian Children’s Fund, who approached them with the idea for this project. According to its website, the village will house girls who may have been orphaned or abandoned a safe place to live and attend school as well as “grannies” of the community who can help provide the culture of that community.
“Construction is on schedule,” said McQuaid, adding the 200 girls and grannies will move into their new homes in November.
As for future plans, World Housing is looking to take aim at homelessness.
“What we found obviously with this COVID situation is it’s pretty hard to stay home if you don’t have a home domestically,” McQuaid said. “We used to always get asked why don’t you do this here?
“Our answer has always been we go where the need is greatest where building a home can be between $5,000 and $10,000 that can house five people and currently that has been in countries where you guys have built – in Cambodia, in Columbia, in Mexico – but we really feel now it’s time to start to focus domestically as well so we’d like to start to build a fund to look at how we might be able to help the homelessness domestically.”
About World Housing
World Housing builds and gifts homes to families living in abject poverty around the world. Safe homes provide the stability needed to help transform lives and end the cycle of poverty. A home is just the beginning to ensure that the next generation has the opportunity for a better future through education, and increased access to the resources that change lives.
World Housing is proud to partner with REX to transform the lives of families living in absolute poverty. 100% of the funds that REX contributes to World Housing goes towards building homes.
To learn more about World Housing: www.worldhousing.org