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Home ownership program helps everyday Norfolk family

A Norfolk County family applied to Habitat for Humanity on a whim.

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They were hoping to be accepted to the home ownership program after being unable to receive a traditional mortgage.


Their hopes have turned into reality.

Sharon Cosby, Russell Helka and daughter Krysten Helka now live in Port Dover but will be moving into a Habitat home on Brook Street in Simcoe once construction is complete.

The family members had smiles on their faces as they visited the property last Thursday morning to see it one last time before construction began on Friday.

“It’s getting exciting,” said Cosby.

“Knowing this will be ours, yeah,” Russell continued.

Cosby saw an advertisement online about an information session with Habitat staff.

“We were already looking, we wanted to purchase, but we were having a hard time,” said Cosby. “We went to the information meeting, filled out all of the paperwork, and the next thing you know a couple months later they told us we were accepted.”

Russell added that the process since being accepted has been long, but they understand the hurdles that COVID-19 has placed on moving forward.

The home will be a detached single-family, two-storey structure with three bedrooms, one and a half bathrooms, a private driveway, backyard, and an unfinished basement. It will be Habitat Brant-Norfolk’s second home built in Norfolk County.

To become a Habitat family, soon-to-be homeowners need to have steady income to prepare to pay off the mortgage, and they must be able to volunteer with the organization.

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The family has put in a total of 500 volunteer hours at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which is the replacement of a down payment on the home.

“We got all of that within a year, but me and Krysten are still volunteering there because it’s a great place,” said Cosby.

A sustainable mortgage is offered to the families with a zero per cent interest rate.

Habitat for Humanity Brant-Norfolk employees were on site to hand out notices to neighbouring residents regarding the upcoming work.

The notice outlines how Habitat helps families, the COVID-19 protocols that will be in place for the build, and other information that would pertain to neighbours, including an explanation of how their mortgage payments will help the community.

“These mortgage payments are reinvested into a separate fund that is used to help pay for the construction of new homes for other families in need of decent, affordable housing,” said the notice. “Homeowners also pay the property taxes on their home, contributing to the local economy just like their neighbours.”

Being ambassadors for the Habitat for Humanity program is important to the three residents.

“There’s a misconception that families that go through Habitat are very low income, and you’re going to end up with a junky place,” said Cosby. “We want to make sure that we break that stereotype, and make people realize that we’re just like everybody else.

“We’re just an everyday family from the area getting a hand up.”

The family continued to say they are excited to call the nice neighbourhood surrounding Brook Street home.

About $180,000 is needed to support the completion of the home build. To date, $54,100 has been raised through online donations and grants.

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