Two families will raise their children in houses they helped raise themselves.
A new duplex, built by Habitat for Humanity, was unveiled Monday in Spryfield as the new homes of the Francis and Chranofsky families.
Monique Francis shed some tears as she explored her new home. She said the whole experience has felt surreal from the beginning.
“I didn’t realize how emotional it would be,” she said.
“I’m really happy. This is a huge step for us, and it’s not something I could have accomplished … with a traditional mortgage.”
The process began in May, when Francis applied to see if her family qualified for the housing initiative. In July, she found out they were accepted.
She said although everything happened quickly after that, time seemed to pass slowly.
“We’ve had a countdown on our whiteboard at home, and now we finally get to wash it off,” she said.
Before, the family lived in a two-bedroom apartment, where all three girls shared the master bedroom. Now Francis gets to have her own. Her three daughters get their own rooms.
Older sister Carly, along with Hercules, a chihuahua-yorkie mix, is happy to have her own space.
“I just want to sit on my bed, close the door, and tell my sisters to get out,” she said. “And Hercules is so glad to have his own room, even if he has to share with me.”
‘Protection, self-worth and dignity’
The family helped volunteers to build the home, as a part of the 500 hours of ‘sweat equity’ program requirement at Habitat for Humanity.
Diane Maskell, a volunteer with the organization, has gotten to know Francis and her daughters. She said she is happy to see them with their new house.
“I think it’s amazing. These ladies have worked hard and they deserve everything they’re getting,” she said. “These families are a great bunch.”
Joanne Bernard, minister of Housing Nova Scotia, said this is why building houses is so important, as these homes give families more than just a roof over their heads.
“It gives families a sense of protection, self-worth and the dignity that every person deserves,” she said.
When the key dropped into her hand, Francis said she finally felt like she was home.
“It’s real,” she said, “and it’s here.”
Habitat for Humanity Nova Scotia CEO Marie-France LeBlanc said the biggest misconception is that the organization gives away houses.
“These families have not won the lottery, and have not won a house. These families have been given an opportunity to purchase a home in a way they can afford,” she said.
Projects are underway in Bridgewater, Oxford, and Whitney Pier in Cape Breton, where other families will soon begin working with volunteers on their new homes.