This blog series will follow up with some of our homeowners to find out what happens after the dust settles and homes are dedicated. Get a closer look into the lives of our Habitat Homeowners with these stories below.
Sharnise aka “Lil Bit,” as our Site Supervisor calls her, may be small but she packs much power. Her determination to be able to provide a better life for her children is what led her to Habitat Cabarrus. She currently rents a two bedroom house in Kannapolis. She is concerned about the many issues with the house. There is lead paint on the interior and exterior of the house which can significantly impact the health of her and her children. The home lacks insulation which makes it difficult to keep her heating and cooling costs down. The home has mold which also aggravates the health of her and her children. They have experienced insects coming into the house through the range hood. There are also holes in the closet walls that allow rodents to enter. There are also security issues in her rental home. This is due to having door locks on both entrance doors that are in poor condition, the windows being painted shut and a front door that does not close completely.
Zula currently lives in a small rental home that has little insulation, which makes it hard to heat in the winter and hard to cool in summer. Due to this, Zula is paying over $400 per month on average for utilities. The bathroom has mold and the home is constantly invaded by ants. The trees surrounding the house are in need of care and look dangerous to Zula. She has worked for two years to become financially qualified for the homeownership program. Her cost of rent and utilities add up to roughly 60% of her income.
At any time, any one of us could be in a position where we are left homeless. Carla and Melvin both have a heart of gold that they bless others with daily and are so happy to be able to receive their blessing of a home to call their own through the Habitat Cabarrus Homeownership program.
Paditra’s journey began in Wilkesboro, NC. She was a loving wife and a devoted mother of three children but began to experience turmoil in her home due to domestic violence caused by her husband. He even began to mistreat the children.
At that moment in her life, she decided to take her children, drive to Salisbury and move into a battered women’s shelter where her and her children would be safe.
The 2018 CommUNITY Build new home was for Latasha, her 14-year- old daughter and her son’s two-year-old daughter. Latasha lived in Concord and was looking for a change of scenery and a fresh start from her current situation. Her rental home was in disrepair with no central heating or air, broken windows and doors, mold and several other issues. Latasha’s location was also a constant reminder of her mother’s death in September 2016. Her mother lived just a few blocks away and was murdered in her home. A change of location helped with Latasha’s continued healing. This new home is also be located closer to Latasha’s job and will be a great place for her daughter to begin early college.
Jenni was broken. Broken in spirit and body from her abusive marriage. In the summer of 2012 she gathered her courage and her son and walked out into – nothing. Homelessness with a young child was still better than staying in a house filled with fear, violence, and pain.
It takes a while to learn about the different programs that exist in the community. Eventually Jenni and her son found refuge in a homeless shelter, then made their way to CCM and joined Mothers & Children Housing Program and then they graduated to the Teaching Housing transitional program. It took Jenni and her elementary-school-aged child years to rebuild their sense of self, security, and confidence.
Joseph came to Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus looking for a home to call his own where he would be able to settle down and start a family. Joseph was a fork lift driver and was laid off during the recession. He was determined to become qualified for a job that would remain in high demand so that he would not be at risk to be laid off again. He went to school full time and obtained an Associate’s degree in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.Joseph came to Habitat for Humanity Cabarrus looking for a home to call his own where he would be able to settle down and start a family. Joseph was a fork lift driver and was laid off during the recession. He was determined to become qualified for a job that would remain in high demand so that he would not be at risk to be laid off again. He went to school full time and obtained an Associate’s degree in Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning.
Denisha is used to looking ahead of her current position. She constantly scans her surroundings and adjusts her direction and speed to navigate the safest course. Denisha transports precious cargo to and from Cabarrus County schools in her bright yellow bus each weekday. She takes the safety of all “her” children very seriously.
As a single mother Denisha struggled to find affordable housing for her family. Her two-bedroom rental took nearly half her earnings just to cover rent costs. Her roof leaked. There were visible gaps between the floor and wall. Between the gaps and completely inadequate insulation, the interior temperatures were either too hot in the summer or quite cold in the winter.
Many of us think we are good stewards of our resources and Jacqueline was no different. She thought she was budgeting wisely. She thought she was stretching her dollars to their best effect. But she never had enough dollars.
To be fair - her rent was really high – nearly half her monthly pay. Few families could get ahead financially in that scenario and as a single mother of a teenaged daughter Jackie really struggled to make ends meet. To compound the issue, Jackie lived in a not-so-nice neighborhood, so she constantly worried about the negative influences her daughter saw every day. When Jackie learned about Habitat Cabarrus through a member of her church she decided to apply. Jackie hoped Habitat would provide an opportunity to build a new life.
One day Odessa had a life, a plan, and a husband. The next day she was a widow without an income or a Plan B. Most people are working hard on Plan A. But what if Plan A goes south – what then?
Odessa’s Plan B meant renting a single bedroom in a home without working heat. She helped pay to fix the HVAC but she still didn’t really have a home. Odessa’s landlord doesn’t like for her to cook in his kitchen because the smells from cooking linger due to poor ventilation. Odessa “cooks” when she microwaves meals in her bedroom. She has very little privacy because she shares the bathroom with other renters. In addition, Odessa is expected to vacate her bedroom when her landlord has overnight guests. Odessa found work as a prep cook with CMC-NE and enjoys it, but her income simply will not stretch to cover rent elsewhere.
Askena is quiet. Though she is a woman of few words one should never underestimate her, because Askena is a Doer.
Ms. Torres has a lot of extended family in Cabarrus County. In fact, in 2014 when she applied with Habitat Cabarrus Askena lived with family. She shared an overcrowded 3-bedroom house with eight other people. Askena, her daughter, and her sister shared a single bedroom.
Do you remember where you were 8/29/05? Lucy does – vividly. She lived in New Orleans and that’s the date hurricane Katrina hit her city and demolished her home. Lucy had extended family in Cabarrus County and that’s how she ended up in Concord, fleeing only with the possessions she could carry in two suitcases. Lucy moved into a house that had been divided into multiple apartments in Concord. She was happy to find a 350 foot space she could afford.
As a newly-single mom with two children, Maria’s journey toward strength, stability and self-reliance began in California in 2013. After many sleepless nights caused by both worry and working days and nights to make ends meet, Maria knew she needed a change.
Candis has been an exceptionally determined future homeowner. She entered the program initially in 2014. An unexpected change in her employment removed her from the program for over a year. But Candis believed in the Habitat program and craved the stability home ownership brings. After much perseverance she re-entered the program in 2015.
Women Build - 25th Anniversary
Life has a way of changing. Julie was pretty satisfied with her life. She had successfully raised her children and was living in an affordable two-bedroom apartment. Then life happened and Julie suddenly found herself raising her five (5) granddaughters. Suddenly that two-bedroom apartment was not so comfortable with six people in it.
City of Concord/Wells Fargo
Coni is a hard-working single mother of three. She, her son, and two daughters share a two (2) bedroom apartment. It’s a good thing this family it tight-knit because two bedrooms don’t provide a great amount of privacy. But tight quarters are only part of the reason Coni began the Habitat homeownership program.
2016 Builders’ Blitz
Kristina and her three children live in a small two-bedroom house. The baby shares Kristina’s room and the two other children share a bed in the second room. The quarters are tight for three growing children and their mom. And if space were the only issue, Kristina might never have sought out the homeownership program through Habitat Cabarrus. But for her family, like many low income families, size is only the beginning of the conversation.
2015 Building on Faith/City of Concord House
After 25 years of marriage, Sonya found herself divorced and living paycheck-to-paycheck in an overpriced apartment with her daughter Majesty. Though expensive, Sonya knew safety was a critical component for her and Majesty’s living situation. During her hardships Sonya kept a positive attitude and prayed for understanding and clarity about her future.
2015 City of Concord House
Heather is the kind of mom who puts her children’s needs first - so she gave up the only bedroom in their small house to her sons. Heather slept on the couch so her children would be well-rested for school. Despite the overcrowding, the leaky roof, the rotten windows and doors, the dubious electrical wiring, and the lack of working HVAC - Heather still dreamed of financial independence.
Did you know babies can count? A 2013 Duke study indicated babies as young as six months old could distinguish between numbers of objects. Children notice immediately if one child receives more cookies than the other one. Counting (even for cookies) is the most fundamental basis for math.
As adults, we count the dollars that come in and distribute outgoing payments like mortgage, utilities, groceries, transportation and clothing. You can only spend what you have - just as you can only eat the number of cookies that come from the oven. The households with more cookies have more leeway on cookie distribution. Low-income households have fewer cookies and fewer distribution choices.
2015 North Carolina Housing Finance Agency (NCHFA) House
Demekia was a hard worker with a good job, terrific kids, and a housing problem. The house they lived in had asbestos tiles in the ceiling, water damage and mold throughout, the windows were painted shut, and the electrical output was iffy at best. So when a co-worker told Demekia about the Habitat home ownership program she was intrigued.
2015 City of Kannapolis Rehab House
Sandra loves her family, but she knew she and her daughter needed to leave their overcrowded living situation. So she moved into Habitat Hill, our transitional housing apartment building, for a year, to help her meet home ownership criteria.
2014 Thrivent Build/City of Concord House
Evelyn first learned about the Habitat for Humanity homeownership program from a friend at her workplace. The house Evelyn rented had extensive water damage, no working heat and a very high rental rate. So even though Evelyn worked hard at a steady job, she could not make forward financial progress.
Evelyn attended an information session and knew right away that Habitat Cabarrus was her path. She worked diligently to meet her 250 sweat equity hours and moved into her home in September 2014.
2014 Wells Fargo/City of Concord House
Erica always had the dream of becoming a homeowner. Her friend, another Habitat homeowner, told her about the program and urged her to check it out. Erica saw flyers in the community about financial literacy classes and attended the initial session. She was hooked.
2014 Eagles Nest/City of Concord House
Jazman and her four children lived in a dangerous neighborhood where they witnessed violence regularly. Jazman felt unsafe and wouldn’t allow her teenaged sons play outside unattended. In addition, their home was leaky, drafty, and moldy with poor plumbing and HVAC systems. So when a family member told her about the Habitat homeowner program she quickly embraced it.
“I have to be able to have a place of my own.” These words are ones that many of us have said at some point in our lives, whether it was when we were in middle school sharing a room with a younger sibling, or in college when our roommate always left the dishes in the sink. For April, these words mean so much more, because she knows what life could have been like without a place of her own.