When your children want to be nurses, police officers or even doctors when they grow up, how do you get them the education they need while in a refugee camp in Thailand? With great effort and some good fortune you get to America. And then – with even more effort and good people who reach out and help – the incredible happens: you qualify for a house from Habitat for Humanity.
Such was the path that took Loo Htoo and his seven children from Myanmar, escaping their dangerous village, to a refugee camp in Thailand. For five years they lived in the camp, working to support the family and facing many challenges, including eldest son Grai contracting polio and becoming handicap in one arm because the lack of medical help in the camp.
Finally making the long journey to America, the Htoo family lived in crowded apartments where the conditions were poor and the costs high. Grai works to contribute to the family’s income and the younger children are learning English and studying hard. They have already changed schools once since moving here, and Sher, their mother longs for stability in their education.
While talking to a friend about their current, substandard apartment, they heard about Habitat and decided to take his advice and apply for a home. It was good advice.
“I am excited to have a clean home and room for all of us and be able to stay in one place,” said Sher. “We can have relationships with the neighbors and be a permanent part of the community. Having a home to grow up in will end the children’s fears and anxiety about school and the home will eventually become their inheritance.”
With such a large family, many evenings are spent helping the children with homework and keeping up with the varied outside interests such as volleyball, swimming, and soccer. With five of the children interested in math and science, reaching their goals of becoming nurses and doctors will be a lot easier in a home that has room for all, and the stability the parents have always dreamed of providing.
Thanks to a generous partnership with local homebuilder Neil Kelly along with PARR Lumber, the Htoo’s home will be build as part of Habitat’s Home Builders Blitz 2014 from May 28, to June 13.Learn more.
March marks one year since officially launching the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI). This collaborative way of working allows us to join residents, nonprofits, businesses, local governments and communities of faith to create a shared vision of revitalization within a neighborhood.
We chose the Cully neighborhood in northeast Portland to pilot NRI because of the observable need. Annexed to Portland in the 1980s, Cully still lacks public improvements like sidewalks and paved roads and has few natural open spaces. Poverty is also a characteristic of this community. Nine in 10 Cully students qualify for free or reduced lunch, and one in four Cully residents live in poverty.
Correspondingly, there is concern around equity and displacement with growing gentrification. The City of Portland offered insight through a gentrification study that found Cully most at risk of displacing low-income residents and people of color. This data tells a story that can be summarized in one word: Instability.
For Cully’s children, a housing cost-burdened (42% of residents spend more than half their income on housing) neighborhood means an unstable life. Kids change houses and schools when their parents are forced to chase affordable places to live. Stability is the key driver of academic success. It takes kids months to academically recover from a school transfer and creates an added workload for teachers. And student mobility negatively impacts all students, even those who do not move.
In response to these concerns, Habitat has partnered with three long-time Cully based nonprofits – Hacienda CDC, Native American Youth and Family Center and Verde – to launch Living Cully; an eco-district, addressing disparities in education, income, health and natural resources.
Living Cully wants to redefine the sustainability movement as an antipoverty strategy. We have already brought together over 60 cross-sector partners to work on stabilizing and reducing poverty in Cully though collaborative activities. Our vision is a Cully with parks, better roads and sidewalks, new businesses and improved schools. We want to achieve this through investment in current residents, so they are able to rise with the neighborhood.
While we have exciting plans and a foundation in place to accomplish great things, the challenge before us is significant. We need you to join us, with your time and resources to help bring this vision to fruition. I expect this new way of tackling the issues of urban poverty will have significant impact, and is already receiving national attention. With your support, we can achieve this vision and take it to the next neighborhood in need, so that Portland is a great place for everyone to live.
In Partnership,Steve Messinetti, President and CEO
During the holidays, we make great efforts to bring more families the life-changing news that we know will bring them great joy - the construction of their homes will be complete, just in time for the holidays!
But we can’t complete construction without you.
With your gift today, we can build more Habitat homes, just in time for the holidays!
Right now, here in Portland, there are families with children spending their holidays in conditions no one deserves to endure.
Although these families try to bring holiday cheer into their homes, the stress of living in housing that is unaffordable, overcrowded and substandard makes it nearly impossible to lift their spirits during this special season.
I hope we can count on you to help us change more lives this holiday season.Please give now to help another hardworking, low-income family spend their holidays at home.
After years of escaping war in their homeland of Burundi and living in refugee camps in Congo and Zambia, Ivette Nduwimana and Pascal Moboko, along with their three children, finally made it to the U.S. in 2004.
“In refugee camps, we slept outside for two months, had no good food, but we did learn a new language and we’re excited to come to the U.S.,” said Pascal.
While they are grateful for the opportunities they have received in the U.S., they are facing new challenges. Their housing in east Portland has mold, leaky plumbing, and other health issues that are not safe for their children. While they would like to find a better housing, they are not able to afford higher rent, and buying a home is not possible through traditional means. But the Nduwimana/Moboko family know all about perseverance and they were determined to find a better living situation.
"We learned about Habitat from Africa House (IRCO) in Portland and they told us the program could help low-income families buy their own home," said Pascal.
When they were accepted into the Habitat program, they were overjoyed. The family now envisions a new, stable place for their kids to grow and thrive. They are working hard building on site and contributing to the community.
"Being in our own home will bring stability you don’t get from renting. We can take responsibility for our neighborhood, help others and save money," said Pascal.
Their home, located at the Orchard’s site in the Gateway neighborhood, is being sponsored by The Standard. They will be moving in this fall and look forward to their new adventures in their safe and affordable home.
If you’ve been out to Habitat’s 45-home build site at SE 171st and Division Street, you have seen the transformation of the vacant parcel these past 12 months. Now that the first 22 homes are built and homeowners are moving in, staff and volunteers will soon start work on an 8,000 square foot lot at the end of the cul-de-sac on SE 171st Avenue.
Thanks to a generous grant from the Nike Employee Grant Fund of The Oregon Community Foundation, this open lot will be transformed into an open green space, raised garden beds and pathway lined with fruit trees. The pathway will lead out of the subdivision’s north end and onto quiet side streets, encouraging kids to utilize the pathway to get to school and the park.
More information about the Nike Employee Grant Fund of OCF is available here.
About the Garden BedsHomeowners are excited to have a place to grow their own food and are looking forward to planting their beds in the next few months. Each family will have their own raised garden bed that collects rainwater in an enclosed tank for reuse, eliminating the need for additional water supply. Water is collected during the rainy months and easily accessed year-round by a small hand pump installed on the side of the garden bed. The raised height and use of space means beds will be easily accessible, ensuring that all family members are able to participate in growing nutrient-rich food.
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Director of Development