Yondella is happy to call the Cully neighborhood in northeast Portland home. She loves that her community has lots of kids growing up in it, and that her neighbors are caring and look out for one another. But when the house Yondella purchased four years ago started having major structural issues, she was worried it would threaten her ability to stay in the neighborhood she loves.
“At first I could see bubbling in the living room ceiling and wall,” said Yondella. “And then water started leaking through. I came home every day worried that my roof might collapse.”
Yondella heard about Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East through her work as a Family Advocate at LifeWorks Northwest. When she shared her housing woes with a client they suggested she check out Habitat’s Home Repair and Preservation Program. She soon learned that the leak in her living room was much more complicated than she initially thought.
“I live in an older home, but I had no idea what this leak really entailed until Habitat came out,” said Yondella. “It wasn’t just the roof; it was the gutters and structural problems with the back porch. It was all these things I had no idea about. Habitat educated me not only on the repairs, but on the health issues too. I didn’t know how leaking and standing water could affect my health.”
Through Habitat’s 0%-interest loan, Yondella was able to afford these hefty repairs, which included a new roof, gutter system, and grading of her yard to mitigate the flooding of her porch and foundation when it rained. Habitat also linked Yondella up with Verde, an organization focused on building environmental wealth in communities. Verde installed a rain garden in her backyard, which will direct runoff from her roof and yard to sustain a beautiful and functional native plant garden.
“I used to get nervous when the rain came because I knew it would mean leaking and flooding. Now, I get excited because I get to watch my rain garden grow.”
Yondella is looking forward to many more years living in her home and in the Cully neighborhood.
“I love feeling connected to my community. Habitat not only helped me repair my home, but it made me feel like a bigger part of the community.”
Every year for the past five years, my family has had to pack up all of our belongings and move to a new apartment. We are chasing safe, affordable places to live and when rents increase, we have to move. This means that my children have had to change schools a few times, which is very hard on them.
I am a Headstart teacher in northeast Portland, so I know how important stability is to a child’s development. Our current apartment has mold problems and it is too small for my family, so being accepted into Habitat’s Homeownership Program brought so much relief. I think it was one of the happiest days I ever felt.
I picture my family and myself living the life that I have been working hard to create. My children will have peace knowing they have their own space and it allows them to focus on their education as they get older.
There are so many other deserving families, and you can help them realize their dreams too.
In 2006, Abdulnaser Hussein had to quit his job with General Electric and leave his home in Iraq to escape the hands of Al-Qaeda, who threatened his family when they learned he was working for a US company.
“Not a night passed where I didn’t fear for my wife and children’s lives,” said Abdulnaser. “This was no way to live, so I moved my family to Syria to try to find security.
In Syria the family faced more hardship. They moved from apartment to apartment trying to find a place they could afford. Foreigners in Syria are not able to have employment, as the economy doesn’t have enough jobs for even its citizens.
“We lived off our savings for four years, but our money was slowly running out. I realized we could no longer keep living the way we were. I feared for my children’s future.”
Abdulnaser, his wife, Suhair, and their five children were finally able to immigrate to America in 2010, ready for a new, promising beginning.
“Life was still hard,” said Abdulnaser. “But life was better because now there was work and hope.”
Abdulnaser found a job as an assembler at a manufacturing plant, but even working over 40 hours a week he was not able to afford a suitable place for his family. They currently live in a 2-bedroom, 1-bath apartment, with mold and bad plumbing. The limited space makes it hard for his five children to focus on their studying.
Their oldest son is 17 years old and wants to become a computer engineer. Their oldest daughter is 15 and hopes to pursue medicine. With such ambitious children, Abdulnaser and Suhair knew they needed to find a home that would provide more space for everyone to pursue their dreams.
They found out about Habitat through a friend, applied and were ecstatic when they learned they were selected into the homeownership program. Their home has just started construction at Trillium Court, Habitat’s newest site in the Hillsdale neighborhood. They have been hard at work putting in their 500 hours of sweat equity building their home.
“All I ever wanted was a safe place for my family to call home,” said Abdulnaser. “Now Habitat has given us a chance. I feel grateful and thankful that my only wish in life, which is my children’s happiness, will now be achieved.”
Thanks to all Habitat supporters for giving local, hardworking families like the Hussein/Dawoods a hand-up!