In my last two blog posts, I raised the question of what it means to build strength, stability, and independence through affordable home ownership – focusing on strength and stability, respectively. This month I want to touch on what building independence means for Habitat and homeowner families. Independence promotes confidence and motivation and allows homeowners to immediately seize control their lives. Habitat, with our volunteers and partners, provide parents with the opportunity to obtain an affordable mortgage, which helps them gain the independence they need so their family can put their best foot forward.
When families enter Habitat Home Ownership, one of the first things they do is say goodbye to a landlord, which immediately provides them with the autonomy to act on what they know is best. Families now have an opportunity to make their house a home. They have the autonomy to do the small, but important, caretaking and decorating like painting their daughter’s room a colour of her choice, installing a laundry sink, or adding their own touch to their property that reflects their unique personalities and tastes. Families control their own future, can achieve their dreams, and are strengthened by the joys and challenges that come from owning a home.
Habitat parents are hardworking and committed, and with the Habitat’s “hand up” they are now able to realize the fruits of their labour. They begin to build equity and can make life choices that benefit their family. Parents are also in a better position to model the benefits of independence to their children, the next generation. Taking care of a house is a big responsibility, and parents can now model that responsibility to their children so that they, too, can become successful homeowners in the future because of the equity wealth they begin to build with each payment. Part of being a successful homeowner in Habitat’s eyes is a commitment to their neighbourhood and community at large – to take care of their property and commit to creating safe neighbourhood for themselves and others.
The final stage of independence is an important part of Habitat Home Ownership: The Buy Back program. When a family is ready to move on, they sell their home back to Habitat and move on to the next chapter in their life. We should note that moving on from a Habitat home is always optional; families are never required to move out. However, our ultimate desire for our homeowners is the final independence that comes from moving into market home ownership. Once a family moves on, Habitat is then able to serve another family with that same home – and the cycle continues.
Without support from our donors, volunteers, and partners, we would not be able to help families build strength, stability, or move families into independence. In 2021, you helped 60 parents and 82 children across northern Alberta begin to build confidence and motivation through Habitat, and we’re pleased to inform you that 57 homeowners moved on from the Habitat program with an even greater degree of independence.