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Family gets keys to their castle

Habitat For Humanity home paid for by Legacy Build Program

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Merlinda, with her sons (left to right) Jann and James, displays the keys to her new Habitat for Humanity home. Also pictured, at far right, is Larry Wandowich, chief community relations and marketing officer for Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.

PHOTO BY JARED STORY Enlarge Image

Merlinda, with her sons (left to right) Jann and James, displays the keys to her new Habitat for Humanity home. Also pictured, at far right, is Larry Wandowich, chief community relations and marketing officer for Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries. Photo Store

The latest family to move into a Habitat for Humanity Manitoba (HFHM) home are now enjoying life in a house that was actually paid for by other Habitat homeowners.

Established in 2008, the Legacy Build Program is a partnership between Habitat and Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries, where, in addition to Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries financial commitment and Habitat’s matching support from donors, Habitat homeowners’ mortgage payments fund future Habitat homes.

The Legacy Build Program has resulted in 50 new homes throughout the province, with the 50th home paid for entirely by accumulated mortgage payments.

"It’s intended to be a self-sustaining fund," said Diana Soroka, director of community relations and partnerships at Manitoba Liquor & Lotteries.

"All of the homeowners that were recipients of Habitat funding and Liquor & Lotteries matching funding are really investing for future homeowners."

On Fri., Jan. 31, the keys to the 50th home — located on Fernbank Avenue in Riverbend — were presented to Merlinda (who asked that the family’s last name not be used), and her two sons James, 13, and Jann, 11.

"Without the help from Habitat for Humanity, I don’t think I could provide this kind of beautiful house," said a joyous and tearful Merlinda to a room full of political dignitaries and Habitat and Liquor & Lotteries representatives.

"Having a new house in a decent place like this is a very wonderful blessing to us. Thank you so much Habitat and all of the sponsors. You help us to dream big because you gave us the very great opportunity for my kids to have a bright future."

Merlinda, James and Jann were previously living in a small one-room apartment which had issues with bedbugs. Consequently, the insecticide used to kill the bugs triggered the boys’ asthma.

The boys are ecstatic about their new house and new, separate rooms.

"I’m really happy I have my own room because I can’t sleep when he (Jann) snores a lot," said a smiling James.

In addition to mortgage payments, Merlinda, a healthcare aide who works 65 hours a week, had to contribute sweat equity hours to the construction of the home. She’s happy her hard work and payments are going into the Legacy Build Program.

"By living in a house we get to help other people," Merlinda said.

During the key ceremony, the family was also presented with a gift bag, a coffee maker courtesy of Tim Horton’s, a tool box with tools, and an outdoor package which included a push lawnmower.

"Access to affordable housing gives families new opportunities and a sense of belonging, where they actually plant roots and become valuable members of the community," said Habitat board member John Ruban during his speech.

"Children thrive in stable environments, opening doors for promising futures. Every family that becomes a Habitat homeowner helps to build a better foundation for a better Winnipeg."

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