Rebekah’s Story

Dec 15, 2020
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.