impact stories

Meet the Hassan family

It is a dream come true to not only own a home, but to live in a community where my children can reach their full potential.

Shamis knew that the fear for her children’s safety needed to end. She lived with her daughter Ifrah, and son, Mohammed, in social housing for over 10 years. As her children grew older and more independent, the dangers of the neighbourhood worsened. This caused Shamis a lot of stress and uncertainty about their family’s future.

Despite the uncertainty, Shamis did everything in her power to stay strong in front of her children. All she ever wanted was to ensure her family had a safe and stable place to call home. Something she never had growing up.

“I moved from Somalia to Canada with my mother and father when I was a teenager to escape civil war,” Shamis explains. When I first arrived with my parents, we lived in a refugee shelter before moving into a crowded townhouse with a few other families. The place was so crowded that I had to share a bed.”

Shamis worked tirelessly to graduate from high school and get into nursing college. But working two jobs to support herself was a lot for her to handle. She decided to put school on hold to start a family.

Then the unthinkable happened. “My husband suddenly left me when my son was a one year old and my daughter was still very young. I couldn’t afford to pay rent on my own while supporting my two children. I had no choice but to seek refuge at a shelter.”

Seven months later, Shamis and her two children received a subsidized apartment in a social housing complex. They were relieved to finally have a place of their own to call home yet it came with new challenges.

“A few months after we moved in, I began to realize the area wasn’t safe,” explains Shamis.There was frequent drug use and fights happening outside. Second hand smoke entered our apartment from the neighbouring units. And loud music kept us up at night.”

Even with her job as a nurse, Shamis couldn’t afford to pay market rent anywhere else. She started to explore what other options were available to her.

“I found out about Habitat for Humanity through a friend of mine who was familiar with our situation,” says Shamis. “When she began to explain how Habitat helps families like mine become homeowners, I took it upon myself to learn more. I attended an information session, and it became clear to me that I would be eligible to become a Habitat homeowner.”

After going through the application process, Shamis and her family were accepted to be a Habitat homeowner. It was the hand up they needed to take steps towards living a safer life.

“We feel recharged knowing that we live in a Habitat new home,” says Shamis. “It is a dream come true to not only own a place, but to live in a community where my children can reach their full potential.”

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