"I grew up very poor. My mom mostly lived in small apartment buildings, and I never really had my own stable home.” Those are tough words to hear—and tough words to say for Richard, partner of Maddie and brand new Dad to Paisley..
Richard, from Southeastern Ontario, and Maddie, a Midland native, have been a couple for over three years. They describe themselves as "quiet, respectful people who work hard and want to do better for our family.” But it’s been a struggle. The couple has lived in a basement apartment where, for eighteen months of the two years they called it home, they fought the constant creep of black mould. "We tried to work with the landlord to have it removed. He told us it was our problem and we’d have to handle it ourselves. We did everything we could, but it kept coming back. When we found out Maddie was expecting, we knew we had to move or risk bringing a new baby into unsafe conditions.”
Richard, a forklift operator, and Maddie, who works in Retail, examined every available option for housing. The search for rental apartments yielded nothing affordable. They considered the possibility of buying a used, four-season RV or trailer, but it was also unaffordable. With a new baby just weeks away, the couple found a temporary solution with Maddie’s parents. As her sister and boyfriend were also living in the home, it was a tight squeeze and not ideal, but safer than the basement apartment.
Every alternative was out of reach. Until now
At the suggestion of a relative, the couple applied to Habitat for Humanity’s Affordable Home Ownership program. Richard and Maddie worked with Habitat staff and volunteers through a thorough selection process that included police and financial background checks, reference checking, a home visit, family interviews, and Habitat for Humanity education sessions. Finally, the day came when Maddie and Richard were given the news that they’d been selected as Ontario Gateway North’s newest partner family.
"We can’t thank you enough. We’ll never forget this,” said a joyful, tearful Richard at hearing the news. "This is the beginning for us. It means not worrying about where we’ll be in the next two or three years. I can support Maddie and our baby and feel confident about putting a roof over their heads. It’s a new start for our family.”
The couple tried to put into words what their future looks like as Habitat homeowners. "We’ll have a back yard where Paisley can play. We can put in a nice little garden where we can grow vegetables. We’d spend the next forty years here. We’re going to enjoy making this a home."