'I started to cry': Iqaluit mother of 3 receives house from Habitat for Humanity

·3 min read
Neoma Cox, back, along with her three daughters stand in front of their future house. The family was selected as recipient of the home by Habitat for Humanity Iqaluit.  (Submitted by Neoma Cox - image credit)
Neoma Cox, back, along with her three daughters stand in front of their future house. The family was selected as recipient of the home by Habitat for Humanity Iqaluit. (Submitted by Neoma Cox - image credit)

Neoma Cox of Iqaluit was in an umpire clinic in early July when she got a call informing her that she, and her daughters, would be getting their very own home.

The person on the other end of line was with Habitat for Humanity Iqaluit, a charity that builds houses for people who have the means to afford a house but struggle to outright buy one.

"I started to cry," she said of hearing the news. "It took me a bit to go back to the clinic, it was just so surreal."

It's the organization's sixth home build since it started in 2006.

Submitted by Neoma Cox
Submitted by Neoma Cox

Cox said the most exciting part of the news was when her three daughters found out.

"I couldn't wait to tell them," she said.

They were at their fathers house at the time, so when Cox arrived after the clinic, she sat them down and told them.

Cox works for the federal government and has been living in staff housing. This means for the first time, her children can paint their own rooms.

"Painting, it is a big deal," she said."They are so excited to be able to."

Initial choice found suitable housing

Cox, 28, had been trying to save up to buy her own house but didn't expect to be able to afford one until she was in her 30's. So she put in an application for the Habitat for Humanity home in 2019.

"I never imagined that I could actually win or be chosen," Cox said.

"I keep driving by the house and being like 'this is my house, this is going to be my house.'"

The year she put in the application, someone else was initially chosen, said Tim Brown, chair of Habitat for Humanity Iqaluit. But that person ended up finding more suitable housing which led to Cox's selection.

Habitat for Humanity offers a zero interest mortgage to recipients for up to 35 years.

Brown said seeing the reaction from the recipients is the most rewarding part of the job.

"It's always been really humbling," he said.

The house was made with the support of several partners, Brown said, including the Department of Justice Correctional Services. Along with a construction company, the partners run 14-week trades program offered to clients of the Qikiqtani Correctional Healing Centre.

Six of the graduates from that program helped work on Cox's future house.

Brown said the plan is for the family to be able to move into their home by the fall.

Housing shortage

Cox said although she is happy to get a house, she knows there are many who aren't so lucky.

"There's a big housing shortage, not just in Iqaluit but in Nunavut in general," she said.

"Overcrowded housing is a big issue."

She said the territory needs more affordable homes as it can be difficult for many families to pay rent or a mortgage and for groceries.

She said people are told to get an education and then build their life.

"How can you build your life if you can't afford it or there's nothing there for it?" she said.

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