It’s more than just a house

May 28, 2018

Gisborne woman Pimia Hewett says that reaching the five-year mark in her whanau’s assisted home ownership journey has come with overwhelming feelings of “perseverance and love”.

Together with husband Bryan and their six children, Pimia says the home has been “truly a blessing through a second chance in life.”

“We want to be humble about it, we know it has purpose. It is more than just a house, manaakitanga is a value that sits within it, meaning to care, support and generally make us and visitors feel at home. Our way of living before the opportunity came through Habitat was one of a simple life and one that has shaped us to be grateful for what we have today”.

“Reflecting back to 2012, a word shared to us by the Deputy Mayor of Gisborne was ‘arohanui’ to mean much love with deep affection. This is another principal value of our home in which we continue to be embraced by.”

The Hewett family moved in more than five years ago to join the Habitat assisted homeownership programme, which sees people first rent for five years, at which point they are usually offered the chance to work towards home ownership.

Mrs Hewett would like to one day document in a book their experience of the house being built by the many volunteers who helped. Their story includes many people and acknowledge they are a huge part of their home. She refers to the Habitat journey to be like ‘The Secret Book’ something happens, but you don’t know what, until it is truly revealed.

“There were so many volunteers, it was an amazing experience, photos were captured from the laying of the foundations to the completed project. It really was a gift being built before our eyes, we can now look at our photos of everyone who kindly contributed big or small to build our home. We are so thankful to Habitat for Humanity who without them we would not have had this great opportunity.”

Reaching the five-year milestone from renters to long-term purchasers required “faith, trust and working together as a family.”

To get to this point of buying the home, which is structured with Habitat on a long-term purchase and sale agreement. Their rent paid during the first five years, less Habitat’s costs, forms part of the deposit on the agreed purchase price, which is the home’s value at the time of it being built. Between five and 10 years, the Hewett family will ‘settle’ with Habitat.

“It is a surprise when you get to this point, it is not till now that we realise how the programme really works. It is a true test of faith and we are glad we just kept doing what was asked of us because now we can see how it has helped our family to work towards owning our home.”

“It did not come easily and nothing in life does, you must work for what you reap. Habitat support in many ways by offering advice on how to best care for your home at a low cost.”

“We attended DIY workshops at Bunnings, learning about the use of power saving light bulbs and changing a washer on a leaky tap, it is great to know how to fix and maintain little things in our home without having to get a plumber or an electrician. We were also encouraged to seek a budget advisory, which helped us to manage our finances better.”

Habitat ensures rent is kept affordable, at no more than 30 per cent of household income. And over the years, this affordability has helped them to furnish their home

“Having a newly built home was exciting but the old furniture had to go! Each year we were able to buy something new targeting items that were interest free. We get to enjoy our lives and still live comfortably.”

“The imprints of our children’s signatures are on the frames of our walls, they are hidden beneath the plywood, and it is their personal trademark of the house that marks their territory, their home. The main area of our home is the dining room, it is a meeting point for our family and guests to gather, give thanks and share kai, this is where we get to tell the story of our home.”

“Our home is built on a beautiful foundation of love and we are very blessed. Above all we know there is a greater hand in all of this and we give thanks for our creator for everything.”

Habitat for Humanity Central North Island General Manager Nic Greene congratulated the Hewett family on the achievement of their long-term purchase and said the assisted home ownership programme was intended to help families become self-determining over time.

“This programme is about a hand-up not a hand-out,” Greene said.

“And we know that affordable rent, security of tenure and home ownership gives families the space to live and grow – and that ownership is a mechanism to help families break a cycle of poverty across generations.”