Welcome Home Liam, Yuko and family!
On Wednesday, March 24, 2021, we officially welcomed Liam and Yuko to their new Habitat home. They will be moving into a Saanich townhome built by Habitat Victoria in 2014 with their two young children.
The property was repurchased from a previous Habitat homeowner who was ready to move on to a new chapter in their lives, allowing us to serve another local family in need of a hand-up. “The ability to retain housing inventory is invaluable to Habitat to ensure future families will benefit from a safe, decent, and affordable place to call home,” said Tiffany Gates, Director of Family Services.
Before closing on their new purchase, made possible through affordable lending provided by Habitat Victoria and VanCity, Liam and Yuko will have completed 500 hours of “volunteer service” as part of Habitat’s program. “We have had such a great experience volunteering at the ReStore and with Habitat, everyone has been so welcoming and supportive,” shared new Habitat homeowner Liam.
Liam, Yuko, and their children received a virtual welcome from dignitaries, donors, sponsors, volunteers, and other Habitat supporters, along with a welcome gift from The Root Cellar and of course the keys to their new Habitat home! “We are just so grateful to have access to this affordable homeownership program that will allow us to remain in the area. Our new home will give our children so many great opportunities, growing up here in Saanich,” Liam added.
Young family are ready to take their first steps towards a brighter future - Liam and Yuko's Habitat story
Yuko, Liam and their young family are ready to take their first steps towards a brighter future…
Please consider making a donation to Habitat Victoria's latest build projects today. Your support will help more local families build strength, stability and independence through our affordable homeownership program and contribute toward the building of eleven new Habitat homes over the coming year. We hope that all of our new partner families will find support and friendship with their neighbours and be part of building a stronger community.
It has been a tough road for this young family, but they are determined to make a life here in Victoria – the city where they met, fell in love and started their family.
Liam came to Victoria from Nova Scotia after graduating. “My brother, who was in the Navy, really liked it here and it seemed like a good opportunity. I had not seen much of the country so I packed a bag and headed west,” said Liam. When he arrived, he found a variety of work, exciting outdoor activities and soon made friends. “I honestly cannot think of a better place to live, I liked it so much that when my brother returned east to join the Coast Guard, I stayed.”
Likewise, Yuko, who is from Japan, adopted Victoria as her home after coming to Canada as a student in her 20s. “I studied at the Camosun College here, then went back to Japan and worked in Tokyo for five years, but I missed Canada,” said Yuko with a smile. Returning on a work/travel visa, Yuko secured a job and her employer at the time helped her to stay and settle long term.
Despite working hard to get here, finding secure, affordable and decent housing quickly became the real challenge. The family found themselves in an impossible situation, illegally evicted from their affordable rental by a new owner who then renovated and re-rented the property for twice the price just one week after they were forced to leave. “What the housing market is doing to people at this time can be so disheartening,” shared Liam, “we worked so hard to stay here, only to find ourselves scrambling to have somewhere to live.”
After the eviction, they moved to a smaller apartment in an older building. “Our new landlords do the best they can, but there are issues,” explained Liam. The two-bedroom apartment they now share with their two-year-old daughter and two-month-old son is not the healthy environment they want their children to grow up in.
Liam and Yuko have been saving for years to secure the deposit for a place of their own. “We have explored every option, spoken to realtors and mortgage brokers, registered with every co-operative housing scheme in the area, but the market just keeps going up making it consistently just out of reach,” confided Liam. “I worked my way up from the bottom at a great local tech company only to be faced with the choice of leaving a good job and moving somewhere else in Canada in order to be able to afford a place to live. We were being forced to make some really tough choices with downsides any way you look at it.”
Not wanting to uproot their growing family, when the opportunity arose to apply with Habitat they took it. “When a co-worker of Liam’s who had volunteered with Habitat mentioned the charity was looking for families we knew we had to try.”
In September, everything changed when they were offered a place in Habitat’s program. Liam has already been volunteering and shared “we have felt so welcomed by Habitat; it has given us a sense of family here in Victoria. The team genuinely wants to see us all succeed, regardless of background.”
Yuko added, “This is where we belong at this time in our lives. Our new home will give us space to grow surrounded by a community connected through Habitat that will enrich our lives.”