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From Struggle to Stability: A Family’s Habitat Journey

Posted on June 25, 2024

From Struggle to Stability: A Family’s Habitat Journey

Luis, Maria, and their two daughters, Juana and Fernanda, moved to Wisconsin from Florida seeking better work opportunities and to be closer to family, but for the past six years they have had to face the harsh reality of finding affordable housing. Without a rental history, securing a safe place that fit their family was challenging. They ended up moving into a two bedroom unit with Maria’s parents – causing Luis, Maria, and their two daughters to share a bedroom. When they first set foot into their apartment, they had high hopes for a fresh start. After a few weeks, their apartment quickly revealed a variety of severe issues.

There is visible mold present in their bedroom, bathroom, and living room. It has infiltrated their mattresses and filled their lungs each night, resulting in Luis and Juana developing asthma. Ice forms inside around the windows during winter, even after covering them with plastic. The water backup in the sink is a constant concern, and the cold, drafty air makes every winter challenging. Among the many health concerns are safety concerns. The building lacks security, allowing anyone to wander into the common areas. Drug use among neighbors is uncontrolled, and the children can’t play outside due to the unsafe environment. Being in a cramped, unsafe apartment keeps the girls from experiencing the joys of being a kid. Over time, the poor living conditions began to take a toll on their family.

They have spent years in their deteriorating apartment, focusing on saving money to one day buy a home. Concerned for the health and safety of their daughters, Luis and Maria knew something had to change. Luis attended English classes to advance at work, and Maria pursued her GED, both working hard towards a better future.

They learned about Habitat from friends and family and saw that it could be their answer. Excited and grateful, they applied and were accepted into the program. They have been working hard to complete their 400 hours of sweat equity by building their home and the homes of other partner families, as well as taking educational courses to become successful homeowners. They are thrilled to be purchasing a home that they worked hard for, belongs to them, and that they will pay for in the form of a 0% interest mortgage.

“The whole process, we can tell how everyone just wants to help us. We feel the support around us. We feel so blessed to have this opportunity in our life. We truly understand the importance of having a home in the world today, but that is something that is so hard to achieve. It has been a lifesaver for us to work with Habitat.”

– Maria, 2024 Homebuyer

Their journey with Habitat has not just helped them become homeowners; it has given them hope, community, and a brighter future. The skills they’ve learned, from construction to financial management, have prepared them for the responsibilities of homeownership.

As their family prepares to move into their new home, they are filled with joy and thankfulness. They will finally be able to garden, celebrate birthdays at home, and enjoy their hobbies — Luis with his music and Maria with her art. Juana can decorate with her favorite colors, green and pink, dance around the bedroom she’s always hoped for, and continue to dream of her future as a ballerina. Most importantly, their children will have the space to grow, play, and accomplish their dreams without the fear of their safety. They will now have a home that they can look forward to returning to each day, free from the stress and dangers they once faced when walking through their front door.

They expressed that the kindness and support from the Habitat community have made them feel like part of a family. By sharing their Habitat journey with others, they have been able to advocate for many hardworking families in the Fox Cities that are now in our Homebuyer program. 

Luis has even joined the Habitat Senior Crew, Habitat’s committed volunteer base. He is eager to give back after receiving so much love and support from the volunteers who have been by his side through this journey. They have become friends, mentors, and a source of unwavering support.

The whole process has shown them how much people care and want to help, and that sometimes all it takes is a hand up. They feel so blessed to be reaching a dream that seemed so difficult to achieve. 

While Luis and Maria are now on the path to a better future with Fox Cities Habitat, many hardworking families in our community still need assistance. To learn how you can continue to support Fox Cities Habitat’s mission, please visit our volunteer or donate pages. For more information on how to apply, please visit our homebuyer page.