2 Kingston residents now homeowners thanks to Habitat for Humanity
Donna Searles and Laura Edwards are both realizing a dream as they get the keys to their new homes on Cowdy Street.
Both women have young daughters and say their children have played a big role in their desire to become homeowners.
Thanks to Habitat for Humanity Kingston, that dream is now a reality — and only a week before Christmas.
Searles says it was emotional when she got the call from Habitat for Humanity this summer saying her application to the Good Shepherd Legacy Project — a program on which Habitat for Humanity partners with the local Anglican diocese — had been approved.
“It was a very, very good moment, but I also bawled so it was a little bit rough getting to work that day because my makeup kept coming off as I was trying to apply it,” she said.
Searles and Edwards will be moving into units in the second of three duplexes on Cowdy Street for which Habitat plans to find owners as part of the project.
Families who apply for the program need to meet three main criteria to qualify for a home, one of which is a need for housing. Habitat for Humanity looks at where an applicant is living and under what conditions when considering possible homeowners.
The applicant’s ability to pay for the home is also an important factor. Habitat for Humanity Kingston Limestone Region CEO Cathy Borowec says new homeowners pay market value for their property.
“Habitat takes the mortgage back on the home, and there’s no interest and the payments are geared to the monthly household income,” Borowec explained.
Edwards says the cost of rent, utilities and food along with all the other expenses of daily life left her no chance of saving for a down payment on a home.
“I just kind of gave up on that because I figured there’s no way I’m going to be able to afford it, plus interest on top,” she said. “That’s why Habitat — that’s how we could get a home.”
The third requirement for Good Shepherd applicants is what’s known as “sweat equity” — each applicant family has to put in 500 hours of volunteering for Habitat for Humanity.
That volunteering can take a number of forms, from working at the charity’s ReStore to helping build the home itself.
Searles did a combination of both and says she learned some valuable skills.
“I did a lot of painting; I helped lay all the flooring here,” she said.
Both women are planning to be fully moved in to their new homes in time to celebrate Christmas.
Edwards says she also plans to volunteer her time at Habitat for Humanity in the future.
“So many people helped us out and gave their time. I want to do that for other people as well,” she said.
Habitat for Humanity has been in Canada since 1985, and in that time, the organization has helped over 4,000 families find new or improved housing.
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