Michele and her husband Jim and their two children (4 and 8 years old at the time), were one of Habitat Niagara’s first homeowners in 1998 and they have something to celebrate as they have recently paid off their mortgage.
“The [Habitat homeownership] concept is great,” said Michele. “Jim got hurt at work a year after we moved in, and if we would’ve had a traditional mortgage we would’ve lost the house.”
Through Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program, Habitat Niagara provides a no-down-payment, interest-free mortgage to qualifying families who would otherwise not be able to purchase their own homes. Habitat is not a giveaway program it is "a hand up not a hand out.”
Families who qualify for Habitat’s homeownership program must complete 500 hours of volunteering with Habitat Niagara, and attend a series of workshops from Buying and Funding your Home to Protecting your Home & Family.
“It was really good for our children, growing up in a stable home, where they went to the same school and made long-term friends,” Michele explained.
While Habitat Niagara has received testimonials from many families indicating that the homeownership program has had a positive impact on many areas of their lives, the children get the most benefit with improvements in their grades (with many going on to achieve post-secondary education), improvements in health and a rise in their child’s confidence.