Help Start Construction on Simple, Decent Housing

by Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East
Yondella in front of home
Yondella in front of home

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.”

Abdukarim Family
Abdukarim Family

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.

With Gratitude,

Fatiya Abdukarim

Fatiya's Daughters


The Hussein-Dawood Family
The Hussein-Dawood Family

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!

Pete, outside his home after repairs
Pete, outside his home after repairs

Beloved Portland musician, Pete, had a problem. This problem wasn’t the type to find solace in a jazzy serenade, or coded into a secret message within a new album. This problem was with the place that he has called home for over 10 years.

Built in 1929, Pete's Cully neighborhood home was suffering at a rhythm that even his talent couldn’t keep pace with, including lead paint and a leaking roof. On top of this, Pete's battle with cancer the past two years put most things in his life — including home repairs — on hold while he focused on recovery. Thankful for his restored health, Pete now juggles paying for past medical expenses and paying for basic day-to-day needs.

When Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East launched the Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative (NRI) in the Cully Neighborhood last year, Pete received a flyer in the mail that gave him new hope for his home.

“There were so many things that needed to be done around here,” said Pete. “It was getting overwhelming and I could have never even thought about making repairs without a program like Habitat’s.”

The exterior of Pete's home was covered in lead paint that was flaking off, exposing the siding and wood trim to the elements. A window in the front door was broken and needed to be replaced. In addition, the existing roof was almost 15 years old and had leaks, requiring a complete removal and replacement of the shingles, flashing and five of the plywood panels underneath.

“Parts of Pete’s home had been going downhill for some time due to the age of the roof and the damage it started to cause,” said Rod Hilkiah, Habitat Construction Supervisor. “If left unchecked, these type of repairs can get costly and require more skill than the average homeowner is prepared for.”

One of biggest improvements needed to Pete's home was one that he didn’t even know about. After inspection, insulation in the walls, attic, basement and crawl space were all below standard, which partially explained why his home was drafty and difficult to heat and keep cool.

“I knew the older windows made it hard to keep the house warm,” said Pete. “But, I also found out the insulation was pretty bad. The upgrades are already making a difference.”

One of Habitat’s NRI goals is to assist current homeowners in the Cully neighborhood with affordable, critical home repairs, like the ones made to Pete's home. These repairs alleviate health and safety issues. Homeowners go through an application process to be accepted into the Habitat NRI program, followed by an evaluation of necessary repairs and costs.

Homeowners receive a 0%-interest loan for the cost of repairs and make monthly payments equal to 20% to 80% of the repair costs, depending on income. In addition, homeowners are encouraged to help make repairs alongside Habitat volunteers and the construction team. Pete utilized the scaffolding Habitat put up outside his house to apply paint to the exterior during his free time, a task that made a big difference in appearance and protection of his home.

“I chose this shade of green myself,” said Pete with a half-smile. “My friends picked a shade that had a more yellow and it was a little brighter, but I think this one suits me pretty well.”

With critical home repairs complete, Pete has been able to move on with his music while also managing smaller improvements inside his home.

“I’m currently working on some long overdue paint and repairs in most of the rooms. When I’m not working on my home, I’m playing gigs around town in the evenings and teaching guitar lessons.”

For more information about Habitat’s Home Repair and Prevention Program in the Cully neighborhood, contact Jessica Jazdzewski (yaz-jev-ski) at 503.287.9529 x30 or email


The Htoo Family
The Htoo Family

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.
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Organization Information

Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East

Location: Portland, Oregon - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Tracy Matchett
Director of Development
Portland, OR United States

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