Habitat for Humanity was founded with a single-minded mission to ensure that every family has a decent place to live.
For over 40 years, our organization has worked around the world making our mission a reality, building hundreds of thousands of homes for those in need of an affordable, secure dwelling to call home. However, to truly see our vision make the largest impact on the world, we had to re-evaluate what we considered family.
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Not one household is exactly the same. Three years ago, we changed how we define family so we can help more who find themselves needing safe and affordable housing. Since then, we’ve expanded our reach to not only include traditional couples and children, but to those who are single parents, senior citizens and those with special needs and disabilities. In some cases, having a home may not meet the needs of what they need. Accessibility issues can still present themselves in even the most modern homes, and being able to live in a home comfortably is a central tenet to our goals as an organization.
Since 2016, Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga has had a particular focus on helping people facing obstacles due to complex special needs. Through our homebuilding efforts, we aim to allow these people the time, space and security to address the obstacles already present in their lives.
A build that was the first of its kind, the Bett-Knowlton Build project was first proposed as a way to help a group of men with autism and their caretakers live comfortably and easily. The house, constructed in Acton, was retrofitted with multiple accessibility options to help aid their everyday activities. Some of the amenities included a walk-in shower and wheelchair ramp at the front door. The home was also built with the idea that having support is one of the keys to having a healthy and happy life. This allows the home to promote a family structure, one where the residents can socialize and support each other with ease.
Help making the project possible was Community Living North Halton. A partnership between us was a perfect match, with Habitat constructing and retrofitting the home, while Community Living built up the program for the groups living situation. The coordinated effort helped create a build never seen before, and has inspired us to create new possibilities in our communities for the future.
Habitat is always looking at working with other not-for-profits in our communities, and the Bett-Knowlton build wouldn’t have been possible without the help of the community of Acton. Several local businesses helped out when our build was unfortunately delayed, but the support and donations we received to help finish the project were incredible. Being able to look to our communities for help can ensure that we’ll give back to not only Acton, but communities and cities all across Halton.
The Leonard Family
In February, we met with Shyvon Leonard to learn about the unique story of her daughter Trinity and their need for accessible housing. Shyvon lives in a small home in Milton with her two children. Her son Cooper is a curious young boy with and her daughter Trinity is a teenager with complex special needs. The two are cared for by Shyvon who requires a lot of time and space to help nurture them properly, especially Trinity. With their current living situation, Shyvon is prevented from providing that care due to accessibility issues.
Throughout her life, Shyvon has needed to adapt to living in non-idealistic spaces for her daughter, and her journey has been nothing but a challenge. At Habitat, we want to make it possible for families like Shyvon’s to live comfortably in a home that is decent, secure and accessible.
Unfortunately, renting a home keeps Shyvon from being able to retrofit or renovate her living space to better suit Trinity’s needs. A lot of the time, Shyvon resorts to carrying Trinity around her current home, and with Trinity ageing, this will one day no longer be possible. It’s Shyvon’s dream to one day own a place of her own so she can ensure the safety of Trinity, Cooper and herself as their family grows together.
We have recently launched a campaign to help more families like Shyvon’s. Through the fundraising, we hope to raise enough money for another multi-family home build, like the Merritt in Mississauga and Crew-Goetz in Burlington. We want to help more people than ever before, in more ways than ever before. To hear Shyvon’s story in her own words, follow this link. If you want to help families like the Leonard family achieve the dream of homeownership, donate today!