Partner Homeowner Stories
During the last 20 years, Habitat Oakland County doors, volunteers and staff have built new or refurbished homes for more than 200 families in our county. Here are just a few stories to understand the impact affordable housing can have on an individual or family’s life…. more stories will be coming as well!
US Army and Disabled Veteran and now cancer survivor, 39-year-old Monica has devoted her entire adult life to the United States Military. She enlisted in the Michigan Reserves the same year she graduated from high school (1992) and served until 2002.
After a debilitating back injury, she was honorably discharged and put on disability. However, she keeps giving and giving and giving to her beloved US military and veteran community.
Her telephone number is known throughout the veteran community as a 33-hour per week AmeriCorps volunteer. “Needs just dont come up from 9 to 5”, says Monica, “I’m here to help whenever a need arises. A flat tire, mental health issue, housing needs or anything else that a veteran needs.”
Monica also has her bachelors degree from Mercy College in corporate and homeland security and now is getting a second masters degree in marriage and family counseling with a specialization in military and veterans.
2012 also brought with it a lymphoma diagnosis and subsequent bone marrow transplant and back surgery in 2013 she continues to remain cancer-free as of February 2016. “I thank God every day that I am still cancer-free”, explains Monica. “Out of the 8 of us that had transplants together, there are only two of us still alive.”
Fellow members of Oakland Countys Veterans Community Action Team (VCAT) decided she was the local veteran who could and should benefit for Habitat for Humanity of Oakland County homeownership.
She did qualify for homeownership and currently has a Habitat Oakland County home refurbishment in progress in Hazel Park with her home closing expected during Summer 2016.
Following a divorce, Lori and her children, Jessie and Derek, moved to three different states and lived in nearly every type of housing available.
“I had just finally had enough when I saw a news segment about Habitat for Humanity, ” says Lori. “We lived with a gaping hole in our townhouse and there was an awful mold situation in my daughter’s bedroom that our landlord simply wouldn’t address.”
The three-bedroom, 1,000 square- foot Madison Heights home is in a great, quiet neighborhood, close to her autistic son’s high school and specialized programs and her daughter’s community college . A bank-owned home, eventually became a donated home, and a Spring 2016 home dedication will change a family’s life for this generation and the next.
It seems that 37-year-old Jennifer was supposed to eventually become a Habitat for Humanity homeowner. She had volunteered at her friend’s Habitat for Humanity Macomb County home build and realized that as a divorced mother of two children, she just might qualify for homeownership! She decided to apply and began praying about the possibility.
At the time of application, she was living in a two-bedroom, 800-square foot home where she slept in the living room while her 15-year-old daughter and 9-year-old, special needs and wheelchair-bound son occupied the bedrooms. The house was extremely difficult for her son to maneuver through and the stress of the high rent was simply taxing on many levels. “I just stayed strong for my kids,” she explains.
Jennifer began the Habitat Oakland County process in July 2015 and has now been accepted into the Habitat Oakland County program through the Women Build initiative. She immediately began putting in sweat equity hours and was proud to be involved in some installation in her new kitchen and learning new skills! “It was a great feeling to know that I installed my own kitchen sink,” she says. “The process of homeownership wasn’t fast. It’s definitely hard work, but it is amazing hard work!”
Her new, 1,200 square foot Southfield home with a spacious yard is ADA-compliant for her son and is bringing the entire family peace of mind. The mortgage is more affordable than her monthly rent.
“I just love my new neighborhood and our neighbors,” explains Jennifer. “This is the perfect place to raise my children and the Women Build donors and volunteers have been an absolute blessing right from the beginning.”
She wants to encourage others who need the help not to give up and to at least consider the application process. She looks forward to giving back to Habitat Oakland County and will continue to help future home owners make their dreams come true with a bit of hard work!
“It was always my dream to become a home owner.”
Carla and Leonard were living in a two bedroom apartment with their young daughter when they found out they were pregnant with another child. After he was born, the couple requested a three-bedroom unit at their apartment complex. They thought this would allow them to get into a unit that didn’t need as much work as their current apartment. The basement and tub leaked and management took an extremely long time to fix any arising issues, if they got fixed at all. After three years waiting for a larger unit to become available, their children were still sharing a room. The ceiling in their apartment collapsed, twice and Carla realized that the rising number of issues required her to look for alternative housing options.
Carla had applied to multiple home assistance organizations but was unsuccessful at getting any aid that could facilitate proper housing for her family. When she saw a flyer for Habitat for Humanity Oakland she went to a meeting to see if Habitat was something that could help her achieve her goals . At the meeting, she discovered that Habitat would be the perfect solution for her family. “[Habitat explained] what I had to have, I was going to be in a brand-new home, and that I would help build from the ground up. It was a dream come true…”. In 1999 Carla and Leonard applied to the Habitat Homeownership Program.
Carla closed on her new home April 18, 2003. Owning her own home has given her children a place to grow and feel secure. They’ve been able to create more family time by gardening and being able to paint their rooms any color they’d like. “This year it will be 15 years I’ve been in my house. Some days I still can’t believe my family helped build on this house from the ground up, never missed a day, was there step by step. My family was really and truly blessed to get this home. Now that my kids are grown the grandkids can have a home to come to, thanks to Habitat.”
For anyone considering applying to Habitat Carla has some advice: “To go for it. There is nothing like having something you can call your own.
With Habitat, they are always there for you and with you, they really become your family.”