Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East

Habitat's vision is a world where everyone has a decent place to live.
Mar 20, 2017

A new life after 5 years in her Habitat home

Cuban native, Mislaydi, loves the connection she and her family share with her fellow Habitat homeowners in her neighborhood. Mislaydi lived in the same house in Cuba until the age of 12 when her family moved to the U.S. That stability was important to her and she believes her six-year-old son Alessandro is experiencing that same benefit because of his Habitat home. “It’s like a community here,” she said. “Everyone gets along really well.”

The families celebrate their children’s birthdays together and accompany each other on trips. She is especially grateful that Alessandro has so many friends to play with in the Habitat community.

Before they moved into their Habitat home in June 2012 they were living in an apartment in which Pablo, Mislaydi’s husband, suffered from allergies and asthma due to the unhealthy conditions within the unit.

“He would get nose bleeds and have trouble breathing,” Mislaydi said. This caused visits to the emergency room.

The family knew they needed to find a safer place to live but didn’t think they could afford to buy. Mislaydi was in college, and with only Pablo’s income as a pipe layer they didn’t think they would qualify for a mortgage. Then Mislaydi discovered Habitat through an internet search and they were on their way to finding a safe and affordable home.

Their Habitat home has brought stability to their lives and Pablo no longer has asthma attacks.  The family has settled into a life free from worry about becoming ill or being uprooted because of spiking rents. “Our Habitat home has made a tremendous change in our lives,” she said. Pablo’s job is secure and Mislaydi is now working for a biotech company after graduating with a degree in biology. Alessandro likes everything about school and is thriving in math – his favorite subject. After school he takes piano lessons and plays in the playhouse his father built in the backyard.

Mislaydi spreads the word to other families about Habitat and how important it has been to her family. She said working with Habitat is better than getting a conventional mortgage because, “Not only do we have a house, but we have a community here.”

The community is very tight-knit. Mislaydi joins the neighbor kids every morning at the bus stop. “When one of the kids is not behaving, I’m like the mom and I make sure they are doing the right thing,” she said smiling. Because she’s no longer worried about the well-being of her family and she feels secure in her Habitat home, she’s ready to pursue her next goal—becoming a family practice doctor. “All the good things in my life now are related to this house,” she said. Eventually she plans to attend medical school. If the determination she’s demonstrated so far is any indication, there’s no doubt she will achieve that goal.

Dec 20, 2016

A new beginning for a Portland mom

Mel and Angelo
Mel and Angelo

Being a single mother is one of the hardest jobs one can have, but Mel in an exceptional case. In her life, Mel has adopted and raised three children with various degrees of developmental disabilities.

Mel lived next door to the children and their grandparents for eight years. She spent time with them trying to offer some stability in their troubled home life. Fed up with the gang violence and the occasional drive-by shooting, she moved a short distance away. Eventually the children were removed from the home and put in foster care. Because Mel had fostered two other children and she had established a relationship with the children, they were placed in her care leading to their adoption.

The two oldest children are out on their own now and doing well, but 16-year-old Angelo, who is the most severely disabled, still lives with Mel. “Angelo will always need an adult in his life,” she said.

Raised in Portland, Mel moved back from Colorado with her children to care for her mother who was suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. “I thought, oh I’m moving to Portland, this liberal enclave. I’m sure I’ll be able to get a job in my field,” she explained.

But she couldn’t find work as an elementary school art teacher and was only able to secure employment as a teaching assistant. Income from that job limited her to a one-bedroom apartment, which consumed more than half of her paycheck. And the rent kept rising.

She said the apartment was really hard on Angelo, who was living in a group home while learning to manage his behavior. He would visit on weekends, but there was no stable place for him to call home.

Mel was no stranger to Habitat when she applied last fall. Twenty-five years ago she had served as volunteer coordinator for a Colorado Habitat affiliate.

“I was thinking one day and wondering if I would qualify for Habitat and did the application and here we are today,” she said. The family was accepted into the program and Mel got to work completing her sweat equity hours. Mel remembers the exact time she moved into her new Habitat home—June 29, 2016 at 10:00am.

Things began looking up for the family. In addition to being accepted into Habitat’s homeownership program, Mel found a part-time job teaching art to elementary students to supplement her income as a substitute teacher.

Now settled in, her background as an art teacher shows through in her brightly decorated Habitat home, filled with objects she has collected and refurbished. “I found these chairs on the side of the road and then recovered them,” she says. “I’m a scavenger.” Her kitchen features a colorful backsplash made from Mexican tile that she installed herself with the help of some friends.

She says Angelo loves his new home where he has his own bedroom. He is transitioning out of the group home and comes to their Habitat home every day after school and on weekends. Entertaining friends wasn’t something he was comfortable doing in the small apartment, but now he’s inviting friends over on the weekends. Next February, Angelo will leave the group home and live full time with Mel.

“I’m very fortunate to be blessed,” she said, “and to have a home where Angelo is transitioning back so nicely.”

Oct 12, 2016

A Family Finds Room To Grow

The Tassew-Megesha family are in need of a decent, stable home for their family. Dejene and Banchamlak live in an overcrowded apartment with their four children. Amanuel, age 18, enjoys reading at home, playing soccer, running track, and learning math in school. Kalkiden is 14, favors language arts, and wants to be an actor one day. Their younger sibling, Bruk, is nine years old and likes to draw. The youngest, Eden, is a growing two-year-old toddler.

The family came to the US in 2008, and has had to move twice while searching for affordable housing in Portland. They also struggled with language and cultural barriers because English is not their first language. After hearing about Habitat for Humanity from a friend, they decided to apply for the homeownership program. Dejene and Banchamlak think owning a home will help their children feel confident and independent.

Dejene said it felt great to learn they were accepted into the program and all their family members were happy. “It changes our lives by giving us a hope to do more as we feel better.”

Along with the support of our volunteers and staff, the family is hard at work building their home in the Cully neighborhood. They will receive the keys to their new home in February of 2017.

Thanks to all Habitat supporters for giving local, hardworking families like the Tassew-Megeshas a hand-up! 

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