Condos bought for tenants in need
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/01/2021 (734 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
I was on Facebook the other day when I came across a video that my former co-worker was tagged in. Kevin Pfau and his wife, Jamie, were in a condo they had purchased that was decorated and furnished with donated items for a mom and her two children who were to move in that day.
The condo was one of two that the Pfaus bought last year for people who may not be able to afford it. The tenants they showcased in the video are a mom and her two children who were survivors of domestic violence. They were not a part of the video for privacy and safety reasons, but Kevin and Jamie wanted to make sure that everyone who helped them reach this point saw what their donations had helped to create.
A video tour of the condo showed a home outfitted with furniture, linens and laundry soap in the cupboards, dishes, and pots and pans. The couple also signed up for high-speed internet and a Netflix account to ensure the families would have everything to live in comfort.
After some research on what the tenants could afford based on income assistance, the duo set the monthly rate below that figure, to make sure their tenants would have enough money for food and expenses. I asked them if they made any income on the properties and they told me they spend about $100 a month out of pocket for expenses and bills at each home.
“We realized that a lot of people don’t have credit cards, and that can be a barrier,” Jamie explained, adding that from the onset of their passion project, she and Kevin made it a priority to create a place that they would want to live.
The other condo is also furnished and home to two young people who have aged out of CFS care. The Pfaus, who became parents to children in care 10 years ago, quickly realized their own children could face barriers one day. Jamie, who is working towards her master’s degree in social work, and Kevin, who is working on his bachelor’s degree in social work, decided they wanted to make difference.
“We really understand our privilege in this world, and this was one of the ways that we knew we could help,” Jamie said.
“We’ve got to do something since we can,” added Kevin.
The road to get to this point for the Pfaus was a bumpy one.
In 2019, Kevin was diagnosed with cancer. He hadn’t been feeling well, so Jamie encouraged him to go to the doctor. Shortly after that checkup, he was diagnosed with testicular cancer and began an aggressive path to recovery. He said that his diagnoses and the grueling illness gave him and Jamie a new perspective.
“It was when he was diagnosed that he told me that we need to do this, and we need to do this now,” said Jamie, adding that they’d always talked about this passion project as a way to honour their children and their families.
However, one day seemed far away in light of Kevin’s cancer diagnosis. He wanted to at least start on the project, and hopefully see it through. Of all the things that they’d planned to do in their life together, this project was the most urgent. So they set out to determine how they’d turn their vision into a reality.
They’d saved enough money thanks to being budget-conscious, and to Kevin’s investments in the stock market. So, they reached out to Kendra Nixon, an associate professor in the faculty of social work at the University of Manitoba and director of RESOLVE, a research network that co-ordinates and supports research aimed at ending violence. She helped them get the project off the ground, and ultimately find tenants.
The months after buying the homes where hectic and physically and mentally exhausting. In the end, all of the work was worth it, not only to the Pfaus, but to the new residents.
“She told us this was the nicest place she has ever lived, and that made it all worth it,” Jamie said. “She deserves it. She kept her children safe in circumstances that I can’t even fathom.”
The couple hopes to buy more homes and has set up a separate bank account for the project. They recently started a GoFundMe campaign to help with the expenses.
“We are at a point where we have enough. We’re good,” said Jamie. “Helping others has made us beyond happy and grateful.”
To learn more or donate visit: https://gofund.me/3fc7ee84
Columnist, Manager of Reader Bridge project
Shelley is a born and raised Winnipegger. She is a proud member of the Brokenhead Ojibway Nation.