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Early Christmas for Habitat families
After two years of waiting, Habitat for Humanity's first Yellowknife clients finally have a roof over their heads

Cody Punter
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 20, 2013

There were smiles and tears of joy on Wednesday afternoon as two families finally moved into their homes just in time for Christmas.

After two years of waiting, the Larocque and Dithurbide/Lefort families were given the keys to Habitat for Humanity's first housing unit in the city, located on Moyle Drive in the Niven Lake subdivision.

"It's almost kind of hard to believe. It feels almost surreal," said Sylvie Lefort, who is moving into one half of the duplex with her partner Ed Dithurbide and their two sons.

"It's our first Christmas in our own home. I doesn't get more special than that," added Dithurbide.

The Habitat for Humanity home was originally supposed to be completed in time for Christmas last year. However, the poor quality of the plots meant constructing the duplex's foundation was both complicated and expensive. It was not until this summer, when the city agreed to buy back one of two lots purchased by Habitat, while offering to forgive certain costs of the project, that construction was able to proceed.

"They say nothing worth doing is ever easy," said Mayor Mark Heyck, who lauded the hard work of the volunteers, sponsors and government organizations that made the build possible.

"Every little hour counted and everyone should be proud because we all did this together," added Charlotte Larocque who will be moving into the other half of the duplex with her two youngest children.

Dave Hurley, president of Habitat for Humanity NWT, said the families are offered favourable no down-payment mortgages for their homes.

"It's not different than you buying a house through the bank," said Hurley.

As part of their mortgage agreement, the families must make monthly payments, which are set at a maximum of 30 per cent of their gross income.

The money from those payments is in turn used toward building future houses.

Before they can move into their homes, each family must also commit to 500 hours of volunteer work in the community.

Although they have already completed their mandatory volunteer work, both families said they would contribute to future Habitat for Humanity builds.

"We're looking forward to having other families go through the experience we've gone through and to help them out in whatever way we can," said Lefort.

Dithurbide added that going through the experience with Larocque's family has already brought the new neighbours closer together.

"These guys are our family now," said Dithurbide.

Larocque said her children are excited to finally have a home they can call their own.

"My daughter can't wait to have her friends over," said Larocque.

To celebrate the occasion, she said she will be inviting over her three elder daughters and their 11 grandchildren for Christmas.

Meanwhile, Dithurbide said the next few days will be spent moving in their furniture so that the house is ready for Christmas Day.

"We're hoping to get our tree up, get rid of some boxes, get some presents under the tree and have Santa Claus come to the kids."

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