Keys to new home unlock family future

NEW START: New Motueka Habitat for Humanity homeowner Shelley Hutton with children Kyan, 5, and Sai-eva, 9.
NEW START: New Motueka Habitat for Humanity homeowner Shelley Hutton with children Kyan, 5, and Sai-eva, 9.

Shelley Hutton was handed the keys to her first house yesterday and she said the keys meant a lot more to her than a roof over her head.

"This means I've got a future for my children," said the 34-year-old Motueka single mother.

Hutton and her two children, Sai-eva,9, and Kyan, 5, became the 21st family in the Nelson region and the second in Motueka to move into a Habitat for Humanity house.

About 100 people attended the opening ceremony at the Kakapo Lane house, which took the form of a church service including a sermon from Minister of Housing and Nelson MP Nick Smith.

He stressed how important owning a home was to giving a family a stake in the community as well as the role of a well-built home in preventing illnesses such as rheumatic fever.

He said he wanted to return New Zealand to the levels of home ownership of a quarter-century ago in a decade. "That means we've got to get 100,000 Shelleys who are renting into their own homes."

He praised Habitat for Humanity for its efforts in providing low-cost housing to people who would not otherwise be able to afford it.

"Nick Smith is a supporter of our work. He believes in what we do and he comes to every dedication he can," said Rob Silcock, chairman of Nelson Habitat for Humanity.

Under the Habitat model, the applicant's family and their supporters have to contribute 500 hours of "sweat equity" to Habitat projects. For the first five years, they rent the house for at least 30 per cent of their gross income. The rent is saved and returned to the tenants (minus rates, insurance and maintenance) to be used as a deposit.

The house is then sold to them at its assessed valuation, with the family getting a mortgage to pay the balance.

The proceeds from the sale are used by Habitat for Humanity to fund new projects. The Nelson branch currently owns three sections in Nelson and holds building consents for two of them.

Hutton, who works fulltime at the Motueka Recreation Centre, is paying more than the 30 per cent level. Her rent is $300 a week, meaning that when her five years is up, she will have a deposit of about $70,000 for her 112 square metre home, said Neville Greaney, the lead builder on the project.

Hutton said she "couldn't wait to sleep here tonight". Without Habitat's help, she doubted she would have been able to buy a home.