Seated on his couch in a large open living room and dining space in his home in the Old North End of Burlington, Ganesh Adhikari is surrounded by pictures of loved ones, family heirlooms and decorations. On one wall there’s a video game console connected to the TV with games stacked on top. It’s the perfect illustration of a family room.
“We were very happy and excited to have a new home,” says Ganesh.
But there wasn’t always so much space for Ganesh, his wife Indra, and their sons Aadhitya and Ayan.
Before becoming shared equity homeowners, Ganesh and his family were renters, living in various apartments across Burlington and Winooski. While they were able to afford rent, finding enough space for the whole family was a challenge. Family-sized apartments in the Burlington area are hard to come by, and many new developments focus on building smaller places for single young professionals and students.
Ganesh and his family needed a home that was designed for a family, and they found a solution thanks to a partnership between Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity (GMHfH) and Champlain Housing Trust (CHT), which gives qualified homeowners access to a new home built by GMHfH and sold through CHT’s Shared Equity Program. Qualified buyers are required to go through CHT’s Homebuyer Education Workshop, including financial counseling. And because of CHT’s program, the home will remain affordable to another buyer if Ganesh and Indra’s family ever decide to move.
Ganesh found CHT’s process to be especially beneficial for understanding the often-complicated process of becoming a homeowner.
“In person classes were so helpful because we could ask questions and they would clarify everything right then and there,” says Ganesh.
In the spring of 2021, the family moved into their brand-new home. One that Ganesh and Indra helped build. As part of their agreement with Habitat for Humanity, Ganesh and Indra are required to put in “sweat equity” creating homes like the one they now live in and learning invaluable home improvement skills. It’s a total of 400 hours for two heads of household. Though it’s a major time commitment for working parents like Ganesh and Indra, it is also rewarding.
Ganesh says, “I love it. It’s great meeting different people with different skills. Whatever we learn there we can use here instead of hiring someone!”
Meanwhile at home, the added space has made a big difference. Their kids, ages 13 and 8, have lots of room to play in the living room and basement. There’s also a backyard for the family to enjoy on sunny summer days. Now there is space for everyone. It’s a far cry from their days renting tiny, cramped apartments and always being on the lookout for a larger one to move to.
“We’re really happy with this place. Especially for the kids, they need room to play. Sometimes they are downstairs and we are upstairs, they can be outside.”
Becoming a homeowner has provided stability and equity for Ganesh’s family. After years of renting and not knowing how long they’d be in the same location, they appreciate being in control of their future. It’s a special feeling for Ganesh and Indra who after leaving their home country of Bhutan and before moving to Burlington, Vermont, spent 20 years living in a refugee camp in Nepal.
“With renting, everything we pay them is finished. It’s gone. As a homeowner we’re paying for our future, says Ganesh. “Champlain Housing Trust is doing an incredible job for families like us.”