As the ice melts in Sault Ste. Marie, animals aren’t the only ones looking for a spring home. Founded in 2002, Habitat for Humanity Sault Ste. Marie & Area (HFHSSMA) is now in the midst of their 10th build on McAllen Street.

Future Habitat Homeowners Jeff Gardner, Casey Mair and Jett Gardner are thrilled to be taking the next step towards stability and self-reliance. When asked what Casey was most looking forward, she replied, “Stability! Growing up I craved stability and this gives us that. [I look forward to] investing in our new home.”

Currently, 1 in 8 households in Canada have core housing needs, and the Gardners are no stranger to these issues. Constant repairs on outdated housing features are just some of the causes for concern that prompted Jeff and Casey to reach out to HFHSSMA.

HFHSSMA does not give away houses. Houses are sold to future homeowners at market value, with special conditions including interest free, geared to income payments. These mortgage payments help HFHSSMA to further its impact within the community by building more homes.

Claudette McFarling, Chair of the Family Services Committee, states “Homeowners are chosen based on their need for adequate housing, their ability to partner with our organization, and their ability to pay the mortgage each month. It is a rigorous process, but it is vital that we set our homeowners up for success.”

For the partnership with HFHSSMA, homeowners contribute 500 hours of volunteer service, partake in an education series geared to first time homeowners, and help to promote Habitat and the build on McAllen. Casey and Jeff are eager to volunteer with HFHSSMA. From selling new and gently used items in the ReStore, to work on the McAllen house itself, the Gardeners are ready to try their hand in a variety of places.

According to a Boston Consulting Group study conducted in 2017, the average Habitat Homeowner experiences a number of benefits such as improved health behaviours; higher levels of physical activity, an increase in educational prioritization, and improved community relations.

As a mother, Casey is looking forward to a safe and decent place to call home. “Home is love. Home is safe. Home is memories and strength,” says Casey. “We are just so thankful for this chance.”