May 29, 2013 6:24 am

Home ownership now a reality for Dartmouth family

Natasha, her husband Blair, two sons, ages 8 and 11, and 10-month-old baby girls currently live in a small three-bedroom duplex in Dartmouth.

Julia Wong/Global News

DARTMOUTH – Natasha Skinner is counting down the days until she can move her family of six from their cramped rental house into their very first home.

The Dartmouth woman says she “thanks God everyday because blessings are happening”, referring to the help that she and her family are receiving from Habitat for Humanity.

Natasha, her husband Blair, two sons, ages 8 and 11, and 10-month-old baby girls currently live in a small three-bedroom duplex in Dartmouth.

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“It is way too cramped. We’re tripping over everything,” she said.

“It’s almost like we’re taking shifts in the house, which is unfortunate to say but that’s the reality of it,” said Blair.

“There’s no privacy. You feel everyone’s on top of one another. When you’re sitting down, it’s claustrophic,” he said.

Natasha says the small room for the babies is sufficient for right now but if they were to stay, the girls would no doubt outgrow the room.

Her two sons share a room but space is so tight that there isn’t room for their dressers and their closet is packed from floor to ceiling.

Another concern the family has is the lack of backyard space for their kids.

“They don’t really have anywhere to play,” Natasha said.

But the little duplex will soon be a distant memory as the Skinners prepare to move into a house being built in Spryfield.

“Words can’t explain the way we’re feeling about it,” Natasha said. “We’re excited. It’s something I can pass down to the kids.”

Blair says “excited” is an understatement.

“It still seems surreal. It happened to us and I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

The couple says that they have a long list of expenses with four kids and simply can’t afford to buy their own house. After hearing about Habitat for Humanity through a friend, the couple applied and were selected.

“I’m certainly overwhelmed at the prospect of being a homeowner. There’s freedom on many sense. You’re in your own yard. You’re in your own home. You can take pride in ownership of what you have. There’s another level of pride there,” Blair said.

Habitat for Humanity works with low-income families to find and create affordable housing. Candidates are picked based on level of need, willingness to work with the program and ability to repay a no down payment, interest free mortgage.

Families picked by Habitat for Humanity have to put in 500 sweat equity hours to help build their house. But Natasha says she and her family are committed to helping the charity, whether at its second-hand store, called ReStore, or at future events, for the rest of their lives.

“I’m living proof that they are a great organization,” she said, adding she wants to spread the word about the organization.

A move-in date has not yet been finalized but the Skinners are anxiously awaiting that day and are grateful to the non-profit to finally have a place to call home.

“I just want to thank them for allowing my family the opportunity to allow my kids to have a better future. I just want to say thank you, thank you,” Natasha said.

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