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.”
When Hero and Bleh arrived in America about four years ago, they thought their troubles would be over. After escaping violence and refugee camps in Thailand, the familysettled in Portland. And while nowhere near as difficult as their lives were in Burma and Thailand, finding an affordable home that could accommodate a multi-generational household has kept them from feeling truly secure.
“When we were in Burma, our challenges were about our safetyand living situation,” said Hero. “My village was burned by Burmese soldiers. Many times we had to run for our lives, living in the jungle, under the trees or in a temporary hut with no food to eat.”
While thankfully much safer in Portland, the family still faces adversity with their housing situation. They share a two bedroom apartment in East Portland with Hero’s mother Lae. “My mother-in-law is disabled and it’s difficult for her to go up stairs,” said Bleh. Along with Hero’s mother, the couple has their two-year-old son Yeeh, as well as a newborn baby. Hero’s assembly job simplycan’t afford the family the space they need; the five of them share a small apartment with inadequate ventilation, faulty appliances and fixtures, and disruptive neighbors.
Hero and Bleh will purchase and help build their own home at Glisan Gardens.Their new home will be completed in 2016, and will be accessible to accommodate Lae’s disability, with plenty of room for Yeeh and the newborn to thrive as they grow.
“When I think of our future home, I picture my family happy, full of smiles. I’ll get to decorate my house, plant flowers, have a playroom for my children, and much more!” says Bleh. “The new home will provide more opportunities for my children to learn. We feel so blessed this home will belong to us.”