The Family Selection Committee plays an important role in Habitat for Humanity GTA’s homeownership process; each of the three regions that we serve – Brampton/Caledon, Toronto and York – has an FSC dedicated to it. For most families, this group of volunteers will be their first point of contact with Habitat for Humanity GTA.
The homeownership process begins with Information Sessions, which the committee and Habitat GTA staff hold 2-3 times per month on average, to provide families with the information they need to apply to become Habitat Homeowners.
At these sessions, families learn how the application process works, what they need to qualify, and they are given applications to prepare. Once applications are submitted, an office volunteer reviews them to ensure all the necessary information is provided before they are assessed. Completed applications are then vetted by the Family Selection Committee to ensure that the family meets all the required criteria for Habitat homeownership.
From that point, the committee sets up home visits with families who are potential candidates. In teams of two, volunteers visit the family in their home where they conduct an interview with all members of the family present, assess the premises, and gather any outstanding information required for the application.
The team then prepares a comprehensive report with their recommendations and submits it to the Family Services Steering Committee for final approval.
Once families have been approved they are notified of the good news. From then on, Habitat GTA’s Family Services department takes the lead working with the families.
Maria Laing is a long-time Brampton resident who has served as a volunteer on the Brampton/Caledon Family Selection Committee for twelve years. When she’s not volunteering with Habitat, Maria is busy caring for her family and working as Installation Manager for George Kent Home Improvements.
The Brampton/Caledon Family Selection Committee has ten active members including Maria, who come from a wide range of backgrounds – receptionists, retirees, factory workers, and financial services employees – and meet at least once or twice each month. Maria anticipates that as Habitat GTA increases its building activity in the years ahead, the need for new committee members will also increase.
“From beginning to end, it’s a very, very rewarding process,” Maria says. “It’s nice to see families right from the beginning stages before their application is even in, to the day that they are told they’ve been accepted. It’s very gratifying to see a needy family go through this and be rewarded with something that is so special.”
Reflecting on the past twelve years Maria is clear about what hasn’t changed.
“Families are often in the same situation and I think they always will be. There’s a lot of need, especially with rents being so high,” she says. “We do see family sizes changing, larger homes are needed. The hard part is that we see a lot of people in need but we can’t help all of them. That’s the sad part.”
Occasionally Maria has the opportunity to speak to partner families who have been living in their homes for a while and she hears about the many ways their lives have changed for the better. “To know how happy the parents are and how happy the children are,” she says, “To me it’s the greatest reward.”
If you are interested in finding out more about our Family Selection Committee or process, or how you can help, please contact Rhonda Phipps at Rhonda.firstname.lastname@example.org or 416-755-7353 ext. 239.