Karen and Richard: New home owners in Nelson

Jan 20, 2022

Karen and Richard Holman and their three children are the latest whanau to become homeowners through Habitat’s Progressive Home Ownership Programme.

Karen and Richard’s journey was a unique one, in that rather than building a new home, an older home was relocated and renovated. In a remarkable turn of events, Karen was gifted a home on the condition that she would need to relocate it herself. After contacting Habitat for Humanity and going through the application process, Karen and Richard became a Habitat Partner Family.

“The reason we got gifted the building is because the people that owned it were going to rebuild. We didn’t really realise the enormity of the work that needed to be done until we had the home,” recounts Karen. Karen and Richard’s journey to home ownership was a difficult one. After suffering a traumatic birth experience, Karen developed PTSD and for many years struggled with intense anxiety. After moving back to Nelson from the Hawkes Bay to be closer to friends, Karen and Richard, with their three children and 2 dogs, found themselves living in a house truck. As a result, Karen’s condition began to deteriorate.

“That Christmas we were so broke we wrapped Christmas presents in newspaper and we had to go to The Salvation Army to get presents,” remembers Richard. “That’s how serious it was. I think we moved down with $5000 and it doesn’t last long as you can imagine. After contacting Housing New Zealand, the Holman’s were lucky enough to get a house. However, due to the condition of the home, Karen’s health continued to suffer. “The house had classic Housing New Zealand issues. Black mould, dampness – it was so bad.”

Karen was at breaking point. She recalls, “My anxiety became so bad that I could barely leave the house.” The breakthrough came when Karen found an old antique pram online and after contacting the seller to purchase, she walked away with not just a pram – but a house! “The women came out and met me outside and I commented, “Oh you’ve got such a beautiful old house,” And she said, “Well we’re going to rebuild and this house has to go. So if you can literally pick this thing up and move it, it’s yours.”

So began Karen and Richard’s home-ownership journey with Habitat. “This process has been more than just a house. This was an amazing healing journey.  I don’t know looking back if I would have really gotten through it. Through the pain and the doubt.

Without this home, it would have taken me a lot longer to bounce back on my feet,” says Karen. Through the whole process Habitat became our family. They provided us with a hand up, not a hand out. That’s the real difference with Habitat.”

Through Habitat’s Progressive Home Ownership Programme Karen, Richard and their whanau were able to find the strength and stability to overcome life’s challenges, providing them with a newfound hope for the future.