There’s no place like home

November 29, 2021 9:28 pm | Homeownership

Many of us enjoy the warmth, comfort, and safety of the place we call home, especially during the holidays but so many families in Niagara don’t have a safe, affordable, and stable home to live in. This is especially true for Jim and Tara and their three children before they learned about Habitat for Humanity Niagara’s Homeownership program.

Tara and Jim have faced many challenges in their lives. In 2011, while raising their three children, Tara’s mother passed away suddenly, and she took in her brothers to raise them. With seven people living in a three-bedroom apartment they needed more space and moved to a townhome.

“We were trying to save for a house,” said Tara. “But the bank denied us a mortgage because at the time they couldn’t give us enough money for the size of house we needed.”

Three years later Tara was diagnosed with Leukemia, and because of her illness and she had to quit work. Jim took months off work to care for their family and support Tara through her cancer treatments.

Five people sitting on a stone wall.

While experiencing financial struggles and a critical illness, the place they were renting began to fall into disrepair and the neighbourhood had a lot of drug activity where the police were often called. In addition to all that, Jim’s vehicle was broken into three times.

Multiple work orders were submitted to fix the issues in their home and while the landlord was slow to respond, over time the repairs became safety concerns.

The windows are old and drafty and have rotten sills, the upstairs bathroom leaks into the kitchen and the flooring has sunken upstairs. One winter day their furnace stopped working and their carbon monoxide detector went off, when the fire department showed up they informed the family that they were lucky they were still alive because the furnace had not been property maintained and was leaking harmful gas.

“We wanted to move but couldn’t afford to because rent prices are too high,” said Jim. “I was losing sleep at night and always on guard for fear that someone will break into our house. We couldn’t go on like this anymore – we needed someplace safe to live.”

Today, Jim, Tara and their children are looking forward to moving into their very own home! The generosity of caring community members like you helped turn this family’s dream into a reality of having a safe, stable environment.

Being accepted into Habitat’s affordable Homeownership program provides working families with an opportunity to purchase a safe and decent home by partnering with Habitat for Humanity.

“It means so much to us. It feels like a weight has been lifted off our shoulders,” said Tara. “My family will have a safe home that we can afford, where I won’t have to worry about my children’s safety. They will also be able to have friends over and not be embarrassed. It will also give us something to pass down to our children.”

Becoming a Habitat homeowner involves a lot of time and hard work, including a commitment to completing 500 volunteer hours, and attending workshops on the responsibilities of homeownership including, financial literacy, budgeting, home maintenance and more.

The family has spent much of their spare time this year fulfilling their required volunteer hours at our ReStores and look forward to completing the remainder of their hours on the build site building their home.

Will you make a special holiday gift today? It’s been another tough year for everyone, including Habitat Niagara. We have felt significant impacts financially with the temporary closure of our ReStores and build sites, along with the rising costs of building materials.

This has meant that families desperate for safe and stable housing, like Jim and Tara, are waiting even longer, living in substandard housing while having to shelter in place. We are calling on the community to come together and help us complete their home, so that we can get families into safe homes sooner, at a time that it is needed most.

We need your help, please consider donating a vital helping gift — as soon as you possibly can. Thank you!

Warm regards,

Mark Carl
CEO, Habitat for Humanity Niagara