After having to sleep in the lounge because mould forced them out of their bedroom, a Whangarei couple is delighted to be moving into a brand new, healthy home with their family.
Kirsty Slack and Frank Vlamings and their blended family with five children have been chosen from 23 applications as the recipients of a new home, thanks to Habitat for Humanity. "We are very privileged to be the family that's been chosen. It all seems a bit surreal," says Ms Slack, who is looking forward to moving into their new home around February next year.
More than 60 Whangarei families expressed their interest in Habitat for Humanity's Metra Big Town Build - a home ownership scheme for a low-income family currently living in unsuitable accommodation.
Ms Slack said the family's current home was three bedrooms, but they only use two bedrooms and the lounge - which serves as the couple's bedroom. "We've had problems with condensation, poor ventilation and recurring mould.
"At one stage there was thick mould all over the ceilings throughout the house, which was cleaned by landlord.
"You flip the mattress in the back room [which become unused] and the mould would be nasty - I thought, 'I'm not keeping the kids in there'.
"So we used the lounge as our bedroom and gave the kids the [healthy] rooms," she said. The two youngest children, 2- and 3-year-old girls, share one room, with the two eldest, 9 and 11-year-old girls, share the other, with a 6-year-old boy staying every other weekend.
"Our baby - who is now 2 - had several admissions to ED, the children's ward and ICU with respiratory illness.
"The house wasn't helping," Ms Slack said. "It seemed like she would get better [in hospital], go home, and we'd have to go straight back to hospital."
So to be chosen as the recipient family for this Habitat home, a four-bedroom home in Alcoba St in Kamo, feels like a godsend, she said.
"It's going to be amazing. I'm looking forward to having my own room and I'm not going to have to worry about the house making the kids sick, or cleaning mould off the roof."
The scheme allows the family to pay off the value of the home at a rate of 2 per cent for eight years, after which they seek a bank loan. "Everyone wants to own their own home, but there's that whole financial barrier. First it was saving 10 per cent deposit, and now 20 per cent - it just didn't seem realistic. So we are very fortunate," Ms Slack said.
Habitat for Humanity Northland executive officer Conrad LaPointe said the family was very deserving of a new home. "They are a lovely family, hardworking, and they are living in accommodation that is very unsuitable for the family's needs."