New partnership leads Calgary Housing Company tenants to homeownership option
It’s fair to say Kristhine never expected she would be installing drywall. Never mind that her effort is helping build a home she will soon call her own.
Kristhine was volunteering one afternoon in November doing ‘anything she could to help’ at a residential construction site in the northeast Calgary community of Pineridge. She is scheduled to move into her new home early next year.
Kristine came to Canada 10 years ago, leaving the Philippines after finding a program for temporary foreign workers ‘just to try it for a year.’
“It was an adjustment in almost every way,” says Kristine. “Today I have friends that I consider basically like family. But, at the start, it wasn’t like that. Everything was new to me.”
Kristhine started working at McDonald’s. Within a month, her work ethic and commitment led her to be promoted to swing manager, responsible for things like scheduling shifts, ordering supplies, and ensuring customer satisfaction. Today, she is the general manager at a local restaurant.
“It’s very fast-paced but rewarding,” she says of life in the restaurant business. “You meet amazing people and never know what each day will be like. I am very thankful for the great people that I’ve worked with along the way.”
When Kristhine moved to Canada she made the difficult decision to leave her two daughters in the Philippines. In 2014, when she became a permanent Canadian resident, her children were able to join her. Today, at age 17 and 13, her daughters are enrolled in local schools navigating many of the same adjustments that their mother did years before.
One of her most difficult challenges has been securing adequate and affordable housing for her and her children. After getting by with unstable and short-term housing solutions for a few years, a kind-hearted former manager agreed to have Kristhine move into the basement suite of their home. Kristhine lived there for seven years, moving out in 2016 after seeing an ad on RentFaster for an apartment managed by Calgary Housing Company (CHC).
“Finding that apartment was great for me and the girls,” says Kristhine. “It gave us a home of our own. Things most people take for granted, like a kitchen on the same floor as the dining room. We didn’t have until we started renting from CHC.”
After spending nearly two years in the apartment managed by CHC, Kristhine heard about an opportunity with Habitat For Humanity. CHC and Habitat are currently partnering to bring qualified families closer to affordable home ownership. This includes families nearing the top of the income range for CHC housing who are thinking about options for their next home.
Habitat offers the families they partner with the opportunity to own with $0 down payment on the home, an interest free mortgage with flexible repayment terms, and monthly mortgage payments geared to income. Habitat is a globally-recognized not-for-profit that works with governments, sponsors, donors, community partners, and volunteers to build affordable homes across Canada and the globe.
Through the partnership with Habitat, Kristine is required to complete 500 hours of mandatory volunteering with the organization. As a single parent she can have friends and family contribute up to 300 donated hours. For Kristhine it meant taping, caulking, and painting the home she will eventually live in. She’s also volunteered at the ReStore as a technician responsible for cleaning fridges, stoves and other household items.
“Moving in will be a dream come true. I never thought it would happen, I thought I would be renting for the rest of my life,” she says.