Local Success Stories
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Doug and Laura
The Pendergrast family buy a home through Progressive Home Ownership.Learn More
From house dedication to final settlement, Ngaruawahia’s Pendergrast family’s progressive home ownership journey has been truly amazing.
The Pendergrasts are a true example of how dedication and motivation can bridge the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
“Neither of our parents owned their own homes, so I didn’t think it was ever going to happen for us,” said Laura.
Doug (33), Laura (27) and children Thomas (7), Theodore (5), Katherine (3) and Elizabeth (1), recently became homeowners after just four years of being with Habitat for Humanity’s progressive home ownership programme.
Manufacturing supervisor Doug and homemaker and baker Laura had poor living conditions when they approached Habitat for Humanity Central North Island 2015.
“It was mouldy and had no insulation. Thomas’ bassinet kept getting mould growing on it and I was like, no, we can’t stay; it is a health risk” Laura said.
The Pendergrasts moved in to their Habitat home in 2015 and began the rental stage of their home ownership journey.
“I remember sitting on the corner chair and thinking, this is my blank canvas and we can do whatever we like”, she said. For Laura, growing up in rented houses and previously moving six times in two years she was now proud that their names were on the house title.
“Doug and Laura Pendergrast. We own this house. Something’s gone wrong? That’s cool. We can fix it. It’s up to us. We are responsible,” Laura said. “It’s an amazing opportunity. It got us where we are faster and to a higher point quicker.”
The Progressive Home Ownership programme sees families help to build, finish and paint a simple, decent home alongside volunteers and trades, before renting the home for five years. With conditions, they will then work towards home ownership within 10 years, using the rent paid less Habitat’s costs as part of their deposit.
Being one of the few families to go ahead with settlement in less than five years, the Pendergrasts have set a great example of reaching their goal by being financially conscious.
“It helped us to be responsible with our money, too” Doug said. “Having a target especially when you are looking to mortgage…you actually gonna be really structured.”
Talking about the future, Doug and Laura said that this is the “first step” towards their big goal. They plan to renovate the house to build more equity and use it to buy more property. Their dream is to own a beautiful villa one day in the countryside with some orchards and animals.
Jesse and Sherradon
A new home for the Kennedy family in Ngaruawahia.Learn More
Future homeowners Jesse and Sherradon Kennedy were looking forward to the warmth, space and convenience of a newly dedicated Habitat for Humanity Central North Island home in Ngaruawahia.
The Kennedy whanau – Jesse (Ngapuhi), Sherradon (Ngati Maniapoto, Ngati Toa) and children Evelyn (5), Nathan (4), Hayzel (2) and Zoey (1) – welcomed family, friends and supporters to their Habitat home recently for a dedication ceremony.
Sherradon said they’d been given 90 days’ notice by their previous landlord to move out of their “pretty squashy” uninsulated and cold house. It was too small for the family, especially during summer when one of the three ‘bedrooms’ (a loft) became too hot to use. The children were frequently sick through winter, which the couple found difficult to juggle, and Jesse also struggled with asthma and eczema.
While Sherradon said the younger children were oblivious to the change in the family’s life, the older children were excited – Nathan, to have his own room in the new four-bedroom home, and Evelyn (“a very sociable girl”) happy to see her school friends more often. They had been renting in Hamilton, but schooling for the children was in Ngaruawahia, where they wanted to settle.
Habitat for Humanity Central North Island built the home using its own tradespeople and supporters including Alpha Electrical and CF Reese. Habitat sponsor Fujitsu supplied a heat pump, and all paint was also provided by sponsor Dulux. Habitat and the Kennedy’s were supported by volunteers and friends to help get the home finished.
Habitat Central North Island board member Heather Claycomb was please to help cut the ribbon at the dedication celebration.
On the day of their home dedication, Sherradon said she was amazed at the warmth of their home without any heating on – and this would be the first time they’d lived with double-glazed windows.
“Now that we’re here we can spend some time getting to know people – I’m really excited to be part of our school community,” Sherradon said, and Jesse, an outdoors enthusiast, was firstly looking forward to having the Hakarimata Summit track just up the road. “I actually am,” he said. “But I’m excited mostly just to be settled in a home that’s warm, dry and we don’t have to worry about getting kicked out… with space to actually fit the kids in without having to stress out about them getting sick every single winter.”
Besides the immediate practical benefits, the family was pleased to be able to spend time in the community getting to know people better, and socialising with the neighbours. And as Habitat sets rents at no more than 30 per cent of household income, Sherradon said “it’s really good money-wise, because Jesse is studying, and we’re not going to have to be super stressed out.”
She has plans to study and become a physiotherapist when the children are a bit older, and Jesse is currently studying sport and exercise science, with plans to go on to do his master’s.
Habitat for Humanity Central North Island General Manager Nic Greene said the home dedication for the Kennedy family was an important and special milestone.
“This is an exciting time for the Kennedy’s, and while it might seem like the end of a journey for them to move in, their home ownership story and the ‘hard work’ is just beginning.”
Greene said the programme’s selection process was “stringent”, and focused on a family’s “willingness to partner, potential to succeed and existing housing need.”
“We are very much looking forward to celebrating more successes with the Kennedy’s as we walk alongside them through this journey, and I have no doubt they will thrive as future homeowners.”
Habitat for Humanity Central partnered with a Rotorua family to build a new home.Learn More
Housing availability in New Zealand is currently at it’s lowest level in 65 years. Like so many Kiwi families, Tammy Ngawhika Hutchins saw home ownership as a pipe dream.
After hearing a friends story about their new home with Habitat, Tammy attended an information evening and decided to apply for Habitat’s Progressive Home Ownership Programme.
“I received the call to say that I qualified for a house and I actually dropped to my knees.”
With the help of family, friends and over 100 volunteers, Tammy’s family home was built in Rotorua in November 2012 as part of a six day blitz build. The home was dedicated to Tammy and her family in 2013.
“A home to me is about identity, and a place to make memories. When I was young and worrying about a pair of shoes, and worrying about meals at the table – now the kids don’t need to worry about things like that. I have something to leave for my children. I couldn’t say that before. This is home and no one is ever going to buy this, and the children know it’s never going to be sold because they all have their hands to this and they’ve built it.”
Housing availability in New Zealand is currently at its lowest level in 65 years. Like so many Kiwi families, Tammy Ngawhika Hutchins saw home ownership as a pipe dream. Tammy partnered with Habitat through our Progressive Home Ownership scheme, and with the help of family, friends, and over 100 volunteers, her family home was built in Rotorua in 2012. "I would say to anybody experiencing housing need or who has a desire to own their own home, to go see what's available in the community […] I do believe there is no greater person or agency to connect with than Habitat."
Posted by Habitat for Humanity New Zealand on Tuesday, 30 July 2019
What is Progressive Home Ownership and how does it work?
Habitat’s Progressive Home Ownership is a partnership-based programme that assists families moving towards independent home ownership. Families occupy a new home built by a KiwiBuy provider, and pay the equivalent of fair market rent determined by their total gross household income. This programme allows households to enter into an affordable rental programme with secure tenure for at least five years, until they can afford the price of their mortgage.
With increased focus on social housing, better rental housing and increased pathways to home ownership, like Habitat’s Progressive Home Ownership scheme, more Kiwi families like Tammy’s will be able to own their own homes.
Habitat Auckland partnered with Sanjida, assisting with a pathway into home ownership.Learn More
In New Zealand, we partner with family’s through our Assisted Home Ownership programme, providing a pathway to home ownership for the many families otherwise locked out of the market. One of those family’s was Sanjida’s. Based in South Auckland, Sanjida and her three children were living in a rental home but had to move out when the landlord sold the property. Sanjida applied for a state home, but somehow fell off the register.
“The children and I found ourselves homeless. We applied for private rentals, but even though I had good credit and good payment history we couldn’t break back into the market.”
Her family had no option but to move into a friend’s home, the four of them all sharing one bedroom.
“Although I was so grateful, the room was cold and had a broken window. I was losing my independence. I felt lost. It’s never a nice feeling to have to rely on someone else. I felt like I wasn’t providing the basic necessities of a safe home and shelter for my children.”
Sanjida heard about Habitat for Humanity through one of her friends and got in touch. “I was amazed when I got accepted. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would own a home. Now It’s what I strive for.”
After moving into her home in 2015, Sanjida is over half-way through her home ownership journey with Habitat. Sanjida’s story has much in common with many of Habitat’s partner families. Families who just need a hand up into their own home, and who want to provide the security and stability that a place to call home can bring for generations.
Home renovations completed by Habitat Nelson gave Rebekah a suitable home to live in.Learn More
Rebekah Smith, who is in a wheelchair, was given notice on her rental and struggled to find any accessible houses to buy or rent in Nelson. She needed to raise at least $160,000 to reach the threshold needed to receive a loan to buy her existing rental, but was unable to reach the amount she needed.
Habitat for Humanity Nelson was thrilled to be able to partner with Rebekah as a tenant of their Social Rental Programme, to ensure that she can stay in a decent, secure home that is suitable to her needs, purchasing the home specially for Rebekah to live in.
“They bought it exclusively for me, so it was just a big sigh of relief that it was all over. I could hardly sleep that night, it was just like; ‘wow, incredible’,” explains Rebekah.
“When we read Rebekah’s story, the challenge that really resonated was trying to find a rental in Nelson at the moment is extremely difficult. Trying to find one when you’ve got mobility issues and need to get around a property in a wheelchair is a massive issue,” says Habitat for Humanity Nelson’s General Manager Nick Clarke.
Habitat provided the necessary modifications Smith needed to make the home more liveable, such as installing wooden floors to make it easier for her to move around, and converting a window in her bedroom into a fire exit.
While Habitat traditionally helps people into housing through our Assisted Home Ownership Programme, where people contribute to the building of homes they then rent-to-own, Smith’s situation didn’t quite first this criteria. Instead, Smiths story represented a growing need for secure housing for those unable to work in a traditional sense, but still in need of a long-term home. While Habitat owns the home, we rent the house to Smith, giving her security of tenure, allowing her to stay there as long as she needs.
In December 2019, Habitat for Humanity Nelson held a housing dedication for Rebekah. It was an evening of joy and celebration, officially welcoming Rebekah into her home.
Repairs completed by Habitat Christchurch transformed Yvonne's home.Learn More
“The roof leaked. The paint on the walls was coming away. The house was extremely cold. The bathroom was covered in mould and the floor was beginning to rot. And we had rats.
I was upset for myself. I was upset for my children. I was also quite despairing about the fact that there was nothing I could do about it. I got very good at strategically putting furniture in place so you couldn’t see the damage, but it wasn’t enough. I was inviting people over less and less, to the point where I stopped all together. I’m a sociable person so that was very isolating.
To bring myself to say “I need some help, can you help me?” was the hardest thing to do. I’d never shown anybody the extent of the conditions I was living in.
When Bridget from Habitat visited and asked “what do you need?” I almost didn’t know where to begin. I expected to be rebuffed, but everything I showed her she said, “I can see that.” She filled me with hope, and she didn’t for one second make me feel like it was my fault. It was a relief to know that someone was on my side.
When the work started, initially I felt displaced. It was like having a swarm of bees all around my home. Seeing all these people I didn’t know pull my house apart made me feel like I was being deconstructed. It’s like losing a part of yourself; even though you know it wasn’t good, it’s still you.
But there was trust. Habitat and Buildtech gave me such support and were so caring that I felt safe in their hands.
The funny thing is that once I opened up about the help I needed, others began to offer support too. Some people didn’t even know me, but they swarmed my house because they were part of the bigger picture. You call It ‘A Brush with Kindness’ and that really is what it is. The overwhelming feeling is kindness. That was the beauty of it all.
I love my house now. It’s so beautiful. I love having family and friends over. I feel like a burden has been lifted. I feel a lot freer to be myself and I have so much more energy – I want to make it even more beautiful. I also want to pass on the generosity to help others in any way I can. I feel so grateful to Habitat and Home (formerly Buildtech) and everyone else who gave me this incredible gift.
I think people should never feel they are undeserving. Everybody needs a helping hand some time or another. People shouldn’t be afraid to voice what they need. Don’t hide it. Don’t stay where you are. When you are brave enough to admit you need help, you’ll be amazed at the kindness that follows.”
We are so grateful to Yvonne for sharing her story. Unfortunately, there are many more families in Christchurch whose houses are in very poor condition, putting the health and security of the parents and children at risk. If you are in a position to help, please donate today.