Gabriel and Sylvia are the proud parents of two young kids, three-year-old Oscar, and Lucy who was born this past December. Gabriel works full-time as a pastoral associate and Sylvia is a fulltime mother, which is extra challenging as their son is disabled. Living in the Cully neighborhood for the past five years, the family loves their community, but find it difficult to afford a place that meets their son’s needs.
Oscar has cerebral palsy, cortical vision impairment and a developmental and intellectual disability. He uses a wheelchair, as well as several other pieces of specialized equipment, for mobility and therapy. Their two bedroom apartment is already too small to accommodate two growing children and Oscar’s therapy equipment.
But even more urgent is the lack of accessibility for Oscar. The door frames are too small to accommodate a wheelchair, so Gabriel and Sylvia have to move their son from room-to-room by picking him up, a tiring task that will become harder as he gets older. The house has steps to the front door with no wheelchair ramp, so even getting in and out of the house each day is difficult.
In addition to the lack of accessibility, there are electrical problems, single pane windows that make the home drafty and expensive to keep warm, and mold growing in many places.
The family learned about Habitat through their church and were elated when they were selected into the Homeownership Program. Their home will be located at Helensview, allowing them to stay in their current neighborhood. Noyes Development will build the home during the Home Builders Blitz 2016 this spring.
“We are so relieved. We had fear of being pushed out of our neighborhood by gentrification,” said Gabriel, “but most of all we are happy to give our children a safe home that has a greater quality of life.”
A.C. and her partner Jeanne just couldn’t keep up with the repairs their old Cully home needed.
The two share a home in Northeast Portland with their dog Jacoba. Over the years they’ve noticed issues piling up. “A lot of the old windows are starting to deteriorate,” says A.C. “In the wintertime, heat escapes badly. It’s just really hard to get to things like that, and financially it’s a big hurdle.”
Along with inefficient old windows, the gutter system was in serious disrepair.
A 0%-interest loan through Habitat’s Home Repair and Preservation program provided the Miller-Klagge family with a chance to get the repairs they needed to get their house back into shape.
Now that the work is done, A.C. sounds relieved. “It’s lifted my spirits, you know? I couldn’t afford this type of work on my own, it’s just really energized me.”
“It’s warm now,” Jeanne says with a smile. “In the winter I usually sleep with two comforters. Last night I only needed one sheet.”
Lizet and her 5-year-old son understand firsthand how finding affordable housing can negatively impact lives. Together, the pair has moved apartments six times in three years, with her son having changed school districts twice. When Lizet moved to America in 2001 from Mexico, she anticipated some adversity, but finding a safe and stable place to live wasn’t something she expected. Eventually arriving in Portland via North Carolina, Lizet and her son stayed with relatives when they couldn’t afford a place of their own. “I used to live with my sister, sharing an apartment. She has many kids, which made it very hard in that crowded apartment. We just couldn’t live like that any longer.”
Lizet heard about Habitat through her work as a Program Assistant for family support services at Mt. Hood Community College where she connects local families to community resources and services. When she found out her and her son were selected to partner with Habitat, they were overjoyed. Lizet knows that owning her own home will immediately change their lives. “We will not have to move again! My son will be able to feel secured and safe.”
Lizet is already at work completing her 500 hours of sweat equity. “The first time I was on site I was really nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. But it was easy! People there are really friendly, explaining all the time how to do things or what to do.” Lizet and her son will move into their new home in the Helensview community at NE 64th Ave & Killingsworth Street in the Cully neighborhood when construction is completed in 2016.
“Owning a home, for me, means a lot because it would give security and stability to my son. It would give me a sense of pride that I actually accomplished something,” Lizet said. “My son is so excited. Really, really excited,” she says as she holds up a drawing Alan made of his dream home. “He keeps drawing things and sharing with me how he wants his house to be. He’s already got the plan here.”