Growing up, Ashley Cogswell knew she wanted to own a house and saw it as a way to gain stability in her life.
“All my friends whose parents owned their homes, it seemed like they were just more stable, they had more money, they weren’t moving around every year,” says Cogswell.
Cogswell always had a good job, so mortgage payments weren’t going to be a problem, but says she really struggled to save enough money for a down payment on a house. After having her daughter, Cogswell says her dream felt even more unattainable.
“I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to start in a very small apartment, in an older building that was probably in need of some repairs,” says Cogswell.
Cogswell says she was okay starting there because she knew eventually she would be able to move up, but it turned out even that was unattainable for the single mother.
A year after applying for the Homeownership Program through Habitat for Humanity (HFH), Cogswell got the news her family was approved to move into their new home.
“I feel a little silly about how emotional I got about it now, but it was really something that I had wanted for so long, literally since I was a child, and finally it was happening as an early 30-year-old,” says Cogswell.
Habitat for Humanity has a new build lot in Central Saanich – one of three builds currently in the works, all on donated land. Gary Lunn, former Saanich-Gulf Islands MP, donated the 300 square metre lot as part of a 17-unit development in Central Saanich.
Yolanda Meijer, Habitat for Humanity’s CEO, says they hope to build a duplex that could serve two families rather than one on that specific lot.
“The donation of land there is larger than we originally anticipated,” said Meijer. “And our preference is always to serve as many families as we can on the limited land opportunities.”
While Meijer is only in the initial stages of that conversation, she’s hopeful — noting that this may cause a delay in their timeline because it would require going back to council.
Meijer says the Homeownership Program is unique in that it offers an affordable ownership model rather than just providing affordable rental opportunities in Greater Victoria.
Families must meet three criteria in order to be eligible for the affordable ownership program; a family has the ability to pay an interest free mortgage, they are willing to partner with Habitat for “sweat-equity” and they are living in need.
Cogswell has 90 hours left out of the mandated 500, but says she’ll continue to volunteer.
“Just the fact that [HFH is helping] local people here in Victoria and on the Island in B.C., you can actually make a real difference for someone that lives next door to you,” says Cogswell. “It’s not just money going off to help a good cause, it’s money going to help your neighbour.”
Cogswell says the security of owning her own home has impacted her immensly.
“I’m just the average person and I never really expected any kind of help like this. To become a homeowner, especially in this market in Victoria — that is just insane and so out of reach for so many people — I feel just so lucky and grateful.”
For more information visit habitatvictoria.com