“Through it all I knew I had a secure roof over my children’s heads.” Celia achieves home ownership dream with Habitat Dunedin.

Apr 3, 2023

When Celia was informed her lease would not be renewed in late 2017, Celia, her late husband Greg and three children began looking for a new house without success. In a rental market growing further out of their one-income budget, Celia and Greg found ways to squeeze a few more dollars each month. As the situation became more desperate and her family was staring down the barrel of homelessness, Celia applied to Habitat for Humanity Dunedin’s Progressive Home Ownership (PHO) programme, also known as a rent-to-buy model. 

“I thank God every day for the chain of events that followed,” says Celia. 

The family’s application was accepted, and they moved into their new home in 2018 which was just in time, with their lease ending only a few weeks after being selected for the property.  

“Our children grew, and the youngest started school, then my husband got sick. He was eventually diagnosed with terminal cancer and died in December 2019. Being a widow and now solo Mum to three children has been very difficult. The global pandemic a few short months later certainly did not help! 

But through it all I knew I had a secure roof over my children’s head. I didn’t have the nagging fear of leases not being renewed, or of the rent being increased beyond my means. I could relax into my new life, safe in the knowledge that I always had a home. And we could decorate it and live in it as though it were ours.” 

Earlier this year, Celia settled the purchase of her home with Habitat and is now an independent homeowner.  

“It has been quite a journey, but now as well as a secure home, I am walking into a financially secure future. My retirement years will be spent in a debt free home. I can provide a legacy of inheritance to my children. None of this would have been possible without the help of Habitat giving us a hand up into a home. 

I am forever grateful for their support.” 



About Habitat’s Progressive Home Ownership programme

The process of Habitat for Humanity's Progressive Home Ownership programme explained  in an infographic.


Habitat selects families for the PHO programme based on their housing need, willingness to partner and potential to fulfil the requirements of the programme. Generally, Habitat families are not in a position to apply for a mortgage when they start their journey with Habitat. However, through Habitat’s rent-to-buy model the aim is to work with families to help them become mortgage-ready, and in a position where they qualify to draw down a mortgage with a bank or other commercial lender This journey may take up to 15 years,. However long it takes, the outcome is to assist families to become independent home owners