When asked what Stephanie liked best about Gravenhurst, her response was heartfelt. “I’ve lived here all my life. I was born in Bracebridge, my father was born here, and his family all grew up here; I don’t ever want to leave.”
Overcrowded is a word Stephanie and her four kids are far too familiar with. After eight years of living in a run-down apartment, her landlord decided to sell the home. Having been on the wait list for low-income housing but running out of time, Stephanie, Anthony (19), Aaron (17), Austin (17), and Alexis (11) made the difficult decision to stay with Stephanie’s mother.
“My mother, my aunt, and my grandmother live upstairs. The only space for the five of us was in the unfinished basement, and it’s only half a basement because the other half is a crawlspace.”
When speaking on the implications of their living situation, Stephanie explained, “We all share one open space with a bathroom. I’ve been sharing a bed with my daughter for three years. My oldest son had to make a makeshift wall using old cabinets and shelves so he could have some privacy and be able to sleep before going to work in the mornings.”
“We share one single light.”
After Stephanie’s mom saw a call out for Partner Families for the Bala Build and encouraged her to apply, Stephanie decided to contravene her dreams of staying in Gravenhurst for the betterment of her family’s living situation.
“The Family Partnerships Manager called me after I applied to inform me my family size was too large, as the Bala homes were two bedrooms. I was feeling defeated, but she told me about this four-bedroom home becoming available in Gravenhurst, and I knew this was our chance.”
The four-bedroom home, located on Muskoka Beach Road, became available after the previous Partner Family decided to sell. They were able to use the equity they built during their time as Habitat homeowners to purchase a business with adjacent living quarters in a different community.
When asked what they were most excited about in their new affordable home, Stephanie and her four children all had the same response. “Having our own space. Everyone having a bedroom door. Everyone having privacy.”
The family has plans to install a second bathroom and a ramp for their senior dog to be able to access the yard. “Since we’re in the basement right now, it’s very hard for him. He slips and falls on the stairs. Now he can live comfortably on the main floor and be able to access the yard.”
19-year-old Anthony is most excited about access to a full kitchen. “He’s the cooker in the family. He likes to cook and bake. Has access to a very small kitchen, but it’s shared with the whole house.”
“It’s hard until you get to this point, but we are ready; we needed this. Our family needed this.”