Free: A Good Home

While plenty of household items are available for free these days, the house itself isn’t normally one of them. However, thanks to one Calgary couple, a free home is exactly what is up for grabs.

Opting to give away their former home prior to building a new one on the same site, Jason Hastie and his wife Gina placed an ad on Kijiji advertising “Donating our house! Free to a person or family in need” in mid-January.

“We’re pretty attached to our house because we’ve lived in it for 10 years and did a lot of renos to it, so I really didn’t want to see it torn down,” says Hastie when asked for his reasoning behind the decision. “Because of the floods and all that stuff… I thought ‘Let’s just put it up for free to somebody who may need it.’”

Placing the ad just before heading out of the country on holiday, the couple returned to find more than 2,000 responses to their ad.

“It’s been insane,” says Hastie of the response the couple has received. “I turned on my phone and I had all these messages from [radio stations] and it just went crazy from there.”

The couple has since begun, with the help of friends, the difficult task of wading through all the responses in search of the lucky recipient. Having narrowed their list to 100, Hastie says they plan on contacting those on the shortlist to hear more about their situation before the making a decision. The home must be off the lot by mid-February.

The subject of all the attention, the Hastie’s former home is a 1,200 sq. ft. bungalow in Killarney that featuresnew floors, new paint, a new roof and a renovated kitchen and bathroom. Built in 1952, the three bedroom, one bathroom home still has the original hardwood in the living room.

While the recipient of the new home will be responsible for the cost of moving the home and the land on which it will sit, Hastie says at least two local house moving companies have offered to pick up “most of the tab” for relocating the home. Hastie, who is a singer in the local country band Jason Hastie and the Alibi, says his band even came up with the idea of holding a concert to raise money for the move. Hastie’s former neighbour Nora, who has lived in the neighbourhood since the home was built, has even planned a going away party for moving day.

Hastie says he hopes the decision to give away the home inspires others to make similar gestures to help those affected by the floods. The move has already inspired one cleaning company to not only offer to clean the home for free but also to offer free cleaning services once a month to those in need.

Hastie says while he expected only a few responses to the ad, the story has made him a celebrity of sorts, as strangers have begun asking “Are you the guy with the house?”.

“It’s funny because in music you try to get your music out there as much as you can and then you post one ad on Kijiji and it’s the thing that goes viral.”

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