PORT COLBORNE, ON – “It was a real struggle,” said Chantel, single mom of two daughters and Habitat Niagara’s newest homeowner, as she commented on completing 500 volunteer hours as part of Habitat’s homeownership program.
Back in February 2020, Chantel was on the build site working through her volunteer hours with Dave Wiens and the Niagara Volunteer Framing Crew as they framed her Habitat house, little did anyone know what was to happen the following month.
On March 17th Habitat Niagara shut down the build site and its three ReStores as the global pandemic brought the world to a halt. Throughout the months to follow, Chantel, a personal support worker working midnights at a long-term care home, was restricted to work at a single facility and couldn’t volunteer anywhere due to her job and the risk COVID-19 had on our most vulnerable population.
“It was a real eye-opener to see how much is involved in Habitat’s homeownership program,” said Chantel. “I didn’t have a lot of support at the time, but I had the strength and dedication and the kindness of strangers who helped me out.”
Habitat’s path to homeownership is an important and in-depth process, requiring hard work, time, and dedication by the future homeowner family – which helps to ensure the long-term success of Habitat homeowners.
“Habitat’s Homeownership program is not a giveaway program,” explains Mark Carl, Habitat Niagara CEO. “We provide a “hand up” not a “handout”. Habitat provides qualified homebuyers with a no-down-payment interest-free mortgage payable to Habitat Niagara, and those payments go into a revolving fund to help build more Habitat homes.”
With the real estate market at an all-time high, many landlords are evicting their renters and selling their place to make more money, and Habitat Niagara has had a growing number of people contact them desperate to find shelter.
Chantel’s youngest daughter’s makeshift bedroom was a small dark, windowless storage room in their apartment, and she will now have her own bedroom with a window for sunshine and fresh air to come through. The family will also have closets to put their possessions, something they never had in their apartment.
“This home will change our lives,” said Chantel. “It will be our forever home and we won’t have to worry about a landlord selling it on us and having to look for another place to live.”
When Chantel was asked about the community partners and volunteers who helped to build her home, she replied, “We are the faces of their generosity, it is much more than a foundation for our family, they have created a lasting home for us.”
Habitat for Humanity Niagara would like to thank the many generous supporters who have helped turned this house into a reality for Chantel and her family, including A & G Plumbing, City of Port Colborne, Cotton Inc., Dave Wiens Construction and the Niagara Volunteer Framing Crew, Niagara Peninsula Aboriginal Area Management Board, Niagara Regional Housing, Oakridge Cabinetry, Pollard Windows and Doors, Roberts Electric, and Walker Aggregates.