Unpacked for good: Rhea’s Story

How can we better support our kids to be confident and free to express themselves? Having the freedom to roam, make friendships and provide a safe and stable environment can transform hearts and minds. Rhea’s dream was for a home where her son and daughter could fully unpack without fear of moving and switching schools, and her life changed when she became a Habitat homeowner.

“We’ve moved countless times and now we don’t have to worry about it anymore, we’re here for the long haul,” says Rhea. “I have moved 14 times my son’s 11 years of life.”

While moving can be framed as an adventure, it can take a toll on a child’s ability to interact with peers and get connected to a hobby. After cycling through five different schools, Rhea now watches her kids get excited to leave the house every day and make memories with new friends. Originally from St. Albert, Alberta, Rhea and her husband are proud to call it home once again and reconnect with their community. With best friends across the street, the possibilities of friendships are endless.

Homeownership vs renting

When Rhea decided to apply for the homeownership program, they had a few months before their rent would go up. With a looming short timeframe ahead of them, they were shocked by the speed at which the application process went. Raising a family comes with increased costs, and they believed that saving up for a down payment was a many-year dream rather than less than a year.

Finding affordable housing options often means sacrificing safety or peace of mind. The journey of finding their Habitat home has brought Rhea and her family through experiences in older homes complete with damages, malfunctioning furnaces, and homes that felt unsafe. The process of repairs was a series of conversations between property managers and landlords, but repairs can often be out-of-sight out-of-mind.

“When I was first looking into homeownership – we’ve always wanted to own a home like anybody else – it was always just out of reach. The houses were just too expensive for the down payment, and we’d always end up ever so close, but not quite there.”

The choice to move back to St. Albert was a dream come true for Rhea and her husband, and it brought her experience with Habitat full circle. “We were teenagers when the Habitat houses first came up and I always had them in the back of my mind, but I never thought I could possibly be one of these people who could own a home here. But we are!”

Changing from a here-and-gone state of mind

A year into their homeownership experience, Rhea and her family are still putting down roots in the community, but they are enjoying the freedom of having time for themselves. Without the fear of moving, they could finally invest in the exercise equipment that would have been impossible to move around due to its size and weight.

There is a shift in thinking about finances and the act of living paycheque to paycheque and moving forward to plan for the future. Without concerns about finances, they have started dreaming about where they will go next rather than down payment deadlines. Rhea and her husband have set up an RESP for their son and daughter to set them up for success, while also dreaming of how their home can benefit another Habitat family.

“Before this experience, I wasn’t super involved with Habitat, but now that I’m volunteering and meeting the people working behind the scenes and helping all of these homeowners, there’s no place I’d rather be.”

At Habitat for Humanity, we take a person-centred approach to homeownership, meeting you as you are and not who you believe you have to be, and opening a door to help you become a homeowner today. Regardless of your situation, being a homeowner can be your reality through Habitat.

See if you are eligible today!