Critical Home Repair Spotlight: Sandra

Sandra Browne is a single, 83-year-old woman whose grandfather was an enslaved person from the Deep South. In 1884, after slavery had legally ended in America, her grandfather moved to the Seattle area to escape racism and discrimination, and to search for better opportunities for his family and himself. Ever since, the family has lived and thrived in Skyway, a neighborhood nestled between Renton and Tukwila.

As age and weather began to take its toll on Sandra’s home, she reached out to Habitat’s Repair Program for assistance when she noticed her roof was leaking. Habitat worked with a roofer to replace her roof, repair water damage, and install new fascia and downspouts. Inside her home, Habitat also repaired the ceiling in her bedroom where the roof had leaked. There were many nights before the home repair where Sandra found herself so worried about her bedroom roof caving in from water leaks—which was a valid concern—that she slept in other parts of her home.

The repairs to her home have given Sandra more pride in her dwelling, as well as a sense of security and safety. She said it meant a lot to have her roof repaired, so she could go back to sleeping in her bedroom, where she feels the most comfortable.

Being able to sleep in one’s own bed should be a nonissue. For many homeowners, however, especially low-to-moderate income homeowners and older adults, critical repairs just like Sandra’s can go unfulfilled. Having the right partner resources is a critical link. Habitat’s Home Repair Program works with homeowners who need assistance with critical repairs that will ease health and safety issues and increase their quality of life in the home. The program helps keep low- and moderate- income homeowners not just safely in their primary residence, but also in the community they know and love.

Learn more about the program here. http://www.habitatskc.org/what-we-do/home-repairs/

Critical Repair Spotlight: Edna

Edna is a senior living in White Center and is the primary caregiver for her disabled adult son. She contacted Habitat SKC with concerns about a tree on her property that was damaging her home and potentially threatening the foundation. Habitat’s repair team met with Edna to assess the project and scope of the work. In that process, it became clear that Edna was facing other challenges as well.

bathroom remodel

A water leak had damaged her upstairs bathroom, and leaked to the bathroom underneath it downstairs, which now an open ceiling. Due to arthritis, Edna wasn’t able to easily go upstairs to her bedroom, so she was sleeping on the downstairs couch. Lastly, the flooring in her living room and kitchen was deteriorating, making it difficult to maneuver and clean and also creating an unsafe and unhealthy environment for her and her son.

Through Habitat SKC’s home assessment, ways to intervene to improve the family’s quality of living were identified and planned. The repair team started by removing four large trees and replacing the walkway that was raised from the roots to remediate the risk of falling. The team reassembled the upstairs bathroom, including new drywall, flooring, and a door, while also replacing the drywall in the downstairs bathroom. The old flooring was removed in the living room and replaced with low-maintenance vinyl to create an even, level surface to prevent hazards. Lastly, Habitat installed an additional handrail throughout the staircase to help assist Edna in getting upstairs.

Are you or someone you know in need of critical repairs? Visit https://buyhabitat.org/home-repairs/ to learn more and to see if you qualify.

Homeowner Spotlight: The Gardner Family

June 9, 2021

Gordon family photo

For the past several years, Emily Gardner and her two sons were living in a two-bedroom apartment in an urban neighborhood of Seattle. As a single mom, while she is lucky to have kept her job during the pandemic, her hours had been cut, and her rent and other necessary living expenses were taking everything she made and she has been unable to build her savings.

Additionally, the area in which they were living was becoming increasingly unsafe, and Emily’s boys – ages 15 and 13 – were becoming more and more uncomfortable walking outside by themselves. As you can imagine, this troubled her deeply – Emily knew she needed to figure out another living situation.

But once she got deeper into the conventional housing market, Emily realized that people were expected to waive contingencies and compete with all cash buyers. She watched as every possible home within her limited budget drifted out of reach and what was possible was very clearly not advisable – run-down condos with high HOA fees that would sink her into debt.

Emily did everything she could think of to uncover alternative routes to homeownership – she knew her kids needed better and that she was the only one who could give that to them. When she discovered Habitat, she was almost out of hope.

Watch the rest of Emily’s story.

35 Families in 35 Days

In honor of our 35th anniversary, we’re celebrating 35 families we’ve helped serve over the years!

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet April

Countdown: 35 Days

April’s home in Federal Way was the first home that Habitat and Delta Airlines partnered to build in 2013, providing her family with a 100-percent, handicapped-accessible home for her disabled son. Today, April has plans to pay off her mortgage over the next decade and be able to pass the home down to her children, particularly her son, because “it was designed for him.” 

When April reflects on what Habitat means to her, the word that comes to mind is community. “I feel blessed because the neighborhood has really stepped up. We check our mail and borrow ladders from each other. Habitat opened up those relationships for me.” Prior to moving into her home, she and her eldest daughter had moved nine times, and April is just so glad that her sons were able to have stability and stay in the same school and same neighborhood through their teenage years. She’s grateful for the relationships she has made through Habitat.


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Jahna

Countdown: 34 Days

Jahna Smith, a Habitat for Humanity homeowner and board member, on how Habitat impacted her life.

“I’ve been in my home for 19 years and getting there was such an amazing experience that changed my life. When I moved into my house I was a single mom with two kids. Working in my home and building it gave me a home to live in and stability, but it also taught me important life skills and gave me the chance to believe in myself. Because of that, I was able to put myself back through school and now I am working as an oncology nurse at a hospital where I am able to give back to my community every day. I gained not just a home, I gained strength and I gained a sense of community. I am so excited to be here for this signing and to be able to give that same sense of community to other homeowners here in Magnolia.”

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families!


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Alice

Countdown: 33 Days

Why do we do what we do? To help people like Alice. 

“Thank you for helping Habitat do this for people like me.”

Alice

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families!


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Christina

Countdown: 32 Days

There’s no mistaking the joy of a new homeowner. Today we’re featuring Christina, who celebrates with her son after closing on her Bellevue home in 1999. 

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families!


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Joanne

Countdown: 31 Days

When Joanne needed a home for her three children, Habitat was there to help. 

“I put in 250 hours, took classes and got a beautiful house in Bellevue where my three kids could have stable housing. I don’t have worries about places I’m going to live.”

Joanne

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Rosa

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 30 Days

Rosa and two of her three children were forcibly displaced from Sudan in 2001. Washington, and specifically Seattle, have been host to many refugees over the decades and a local Tukwila-area church received them with kindness and compassion, encouraging them to rebuild their lives. 

Now she surrounds herself with her church community, attending potlucks and providing Sudanese food when she can. Rosa’s journey to homeownership has been long and trying.

“The kindness of others and the willingness to teach someone new things is a source of hope for a family that experienced despair in their lives,” Rosa told us. She has worked tirelessly and passionately to make her family’s dreams come true. “Habitat has given me an amazing gift of pride in my accomplishments.”


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Asha

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 29 Days

Asha is a single mother of three and speech-language pathologist in King County. Her family loves the Seattle area, but the rising cost of living was forcing Asha to consider making a difficult choice to move away. 

Through Habitat, Asha and her children were able to purchase a home in the High Point community in Seattle, and they are now in a four bedroom, 1.5 bath townhome that provides safety and security. They are all excited to participate in their new community and neighborhood school, explore Washington together even more, and return home every day to a place that they can now truly call “home.”


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Husseiin and Selma

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 28 Days

Hussein and Selma are originally from Eritria and, when asked, they describe homeownership as “everything.” Even with a reliable job, owning a home never seemed attainable before discovering Habitat. They faced challenges finding affordable, safe, and clean housing. Rental hikes of more than 44% forced them out of their one-bedroom apartment close to Hussein’s work. 

They moved between apartments with their young children and, while their current apartment is made affordable with city housing subsidies, the space has had rodent and cleanliness problems. Selma and Hussein are looking forward to putting the stressors of finding secure, stable, and safe housing behind them when they move into their new home in Lake City in 2021! 

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families!


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Elizabeth

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 27 Days

“AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH! I feel like a soccer player who just scored a Goal! – “GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!” 

These were Elizabeth’s first messages to the Habitat team when she received confirmation of the closing on her Habitat home this winter. Elizabeth and her five-year-old son, Elijah, have been on a journey for a permanent place to call home since her son was an infant. Today, they cannot be happier in their three bedroom, two bathroom Habitat home in Pacific. Elijah’s favorite thing about his new home is the backyard and that the house is near the train tracks. He loves trains, and Elizabeth says that if we visit, we’d likely find them sitting and watching the trains or kicking the soccer ball in the backyard. 


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Shavon

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 26 Days

When Shavon talks about her experience with Habitat, the mother of three says her path to home ownership made the impossible seem possible and that Habitat stood by her side throughout the journey. 

“Habitat didn’t let us down.”

Shavon

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families! 


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Rick

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 25 Days

The Habitat team completed a robust repair project for Rick Cruz in 2016, removing a large tree which had roots that were wreaking havoc on his driveway. Rick is wheelchair-bound, so we removed and repoured the driveway, as well as rebuilt his ramp so he could safely go in and out of his house. Previously, he was utilizing a plywood ramp and the new ramp provided him with safe access to the road and mailbox. 

Today, Rick says that the work has  helped him stay in his home longer and he is grateful for Habitat working with him to save money and maintain his home. “The longer I can stay in my home the better I will be.” 


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Yen

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 24 Days

Yen’s house was one of the first repair projects the team worked on eight years ago. At the time, Yen was a single mother seeking help on a fixer upper, including major repairs that Habitat supported, including a new roof and exterior paint.


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Ashley and Hunter

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 23 Days

Before they found Habitat, the family was living in a cramped, one-bedroom apartment in an aging building. The walls were paper-thin, there was frequent drug use in the complex stairwells and significant traffic noise. Things needed to change, but homeownership still seemed like a distant and unattainable goal. One day, while driving through Sammamish, Ashley saw a Habitat for Humanity sign in front of our construction site and decided to learn more. She attended a homeowner meeting and officially applied. She was thrilled when she found out that she had been accepted into our homeownership program. 

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families!


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Beverly

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 22 Days

Beverly Olson moved into her Snoqualmie home in 2002 with her two teenagers. This photo was taken at Beverly’s home dedication ceremony in Snoqualmie.


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet the Staten Family

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 21 Days

Prior to moving into their Habitat home, the Statens moved five times in four years. Owning a home meant permanence for the family of six, and that the kids wouldn’t have to move schools. The family closed on their home in 2002. In this photo, Cyndie unpacks during the move into their home. 


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Ken

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 20 Days

Ken’s home is one of our most recent Repair Projects in South Seattle, including repairs on his fence, deck & steps, and lighting, along with roof cleaning and stump grinding, all with the goal of making his home more safe, livable and accessible. When asked about the most important projects, he struggled to pick just one, but is pleased with his reinforced fence and says “10 people could jump up and down on his porch now. It’s rock solid.” 

Ken is also very excited about the upcoming work the team will be doing to create a cement foundation for a portion of his kitchen. It will replace a wood foundation that is gradually sinking. He is grateful for the Habitat team and says they have been “totally and completely amazing to work with.”


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Frank and Joella

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 19 Days

When Frank and Joella first contacted Habitat, it was to take care of insulation in the crawl space under their home. After completing an assessment, Habitat learned there were other items that would enable the couple to age safely in their home. Habitat is installing multiple grab bars in both bathrooms, adding a motion sensor light and house mounted grab bar at the main entrance, as well as distinguishing the bottom step with color stripping for safety. All interior and exterior door handles will be changed from round to lever handles. This is especially important for Joella who has severe hand arthritis and is recovering from a painful finger injury. These are minor improvements, but together these changes make it easier for the couple to enjoy their lives and age in place.


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Juanita and Terry

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 18 Days

Juanita and Terry had big plans for their home and had purchased a lot of materials themselves to fix up and repair their house. However, in 2014 they were dealing with some health issues and reached out to Habitat for support on the projects. Habitat completed a lot of exterior work on their home, including replacing the roof and installing siding. 


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Stephanie

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 17 Days

Stephanie closed on her Newcastle Habitat home in 2002. She is pictured here with her children. 

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families!


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Thi and Xuan

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 16 Days

Despite working full time as a Medicare Solutions Agent, the cost of living was too high for Thi and Xuan to securely take the next step to move out of her brother’s home after recently immigrating to the United States. Their son learned about Habitat for Humanity when researching affordable housing options in King County, and the couple reached out to the Habitat SKC team over the summer, learned more, applied, and closed on their home in the fall of 2020. 

In expressing her gratitude for Habitat staff, Thi said, “They worked very well with us, they answered our questions.”


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet the Overlake Families

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 15 Days

The Overlake families at their home dedication in 1996.


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet the Dunn Family

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 14 Days

The Dunn family’s home dedication took place in Sammamish in 2001, offering parents Lisa and Bob space and security to raise their six boys. Previously, they had lived in a 9′ x 12′ home behind Lisa’s parents house.


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Tamara

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 13 Days

Tamara closed on her home in New Holly in 2005, and today she tells our staff, “I couldn’t believe then that I got my Habitat house. When I got that, I just started dreaming.” 

Since moving into her Habitat home, Tamara has continued to work as a flagger in the construction industry. Having an affordable mortgage has been so important to her, as construction jobs can be variable, especially with COVID closures. She feels very fortunate to be in her home, particularly during this past year. 

Tamara has started her own contracting business where she teaches state-certified flagger training classes. She’s proud of the 300+ people she’s helped find a new start or a new profession when they were in need of support. For Tamara, “everything has been going up ever since (she) got her home.”


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet the Gomez Family

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 11 Days

Celedonio immigrated from Mexico in the 1980s and worked on a dairy farm, not far from his Habitat home in Snoqualmie. Celedonio, his wife and their three children moved into their Habitat home in 2002 after putting in 500 hours of sweat equity. 


Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Mike and Terry

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 9 Days

Mike and Terry were combining their families, which included four teenagers when they purchased their Habitat home in 2002. At the time, Terry commented on the volunteers who helped build his home, “the dedication of these people is just amazing – it’s a mind blower, it really is.”

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet the Nguyen Family

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 8 Days

The Nguyen family broke ground on their Seattle home in 1999. 

Make sure to join us for our virtual luncheon at noon on June 3 as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and hear more stories from our partner families!

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet the Nguyen Family

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 7 Days

Guy Trettevik and Carol Hammer closed on their Habitat home in 1996, which sits on land donated by the city of Issaquah. Previously, the couple lived in a two-bedroom basement apartment with their four daughters. In this picture, they hammer the final nail into their new home! 

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Jeannine

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 6 Days

Jeannine Arnold moved into her Habitat home in 1991 with her three-children, offering a solution when they were forced out of their mobile home due to sewage problems.

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Ever Jones Family

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 5 Days

Ever Jones and the Langstaff Family closed on their homes in Bellevue in 1999.

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Sinnema Family

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 4 Days

The Sinnema Family home dedication in 1991.

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Habtom and Meron

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 3 Days

Habtom, Meron, and their family, went from Eritrea to Israel and then to the United States and Seattle and found their way to home ownership through Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County.

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Lola

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 2 Days

From “bad” to “wonderful,” Lola explains how Habitat helped her family find their home.

Countdown to Beyond the Build: Meet Emily

Countdown to Beyond the Build: 1 Day

“This is our beautiful home. For many years we only dreamt of such a home, a place full of light and laughter, built by hand with the intention that all residents, current and future, will rise up in life and pay this dream – AND NOW THIS REALITY – forward for generations to come.”

Emily

Join us tomorrow to hear more from Emily during our virtual luncheon tomorrow at noon.

Homeowner Spotlight: Elizabeth Almejo

“AAAAAAA HHHHHHHHHHHH! I feel like a soccer player who just scored a Goal!” 

“GOOOOOOO OOOOOOOO OOOOOOOOOOAL!!!!!”

“You have to have watched Latin soccer games to know what I’m talking about!”

Elizabeth and her son

These were Elizabeth’s first messages to the Habitat team when she received confirmation of the closing on her home this winter. Elizabeth and her five-year-old son, Elijah, have been on a journey for a permanent place to call home since her son was an infant. Today, they cannot be happier in their 3-bedroom, 2-bathroom Habitat home in Pacific.

In 2016, Elizabeth was in the middle of a difficult divorce, pregnant, staying with her parents, looking for stable work, and permanent housing. In her search, Elizabeth quickly realized that the hours she’d need to work as a hairdresser to afford rent in King County would not be sustainable now as a single mother. She stayed with her parents for Elijah’s first year, but when an illness in her family worsened, Elizabeth was forced to find alternative living arrangements. While her family and friends wished to provide her shelter, nobody had the space or resources.

A friend invited her to a community resource fair where she learned about transitional housing. Her first inquiries were rejected because she was older than the target age and she had a son. Elizabeth was discouraged. With a stroke of what felt like divine luck, someone overheard her story at that event and connected Elizabeth with Vision House, where she applied and she and Elijah were admitted ten months later.

Elizabeth's son in yard

Transitional housing provided the relief, time, and space for Elizabeth to go back to school and earn her High School Diploma and Office Assistant Certificate. “The following June was the first time I ever walked in graduation,” says Elizabeth. Her son started preschool and Elizabeth started a new job. While living there, Elizabeth also met our Habitat SKC team and learned about our homeownership program.

Elizabeth's son on street

In early 2019, they moved out of Vision House’s facilities and into a shared home where they lived with another family and paid subsidized rent through a different short-term program. With limited privacy, this home felt even more temporary to Elizabeth. She continued to apply for recertification just to be on the county and city-subsidized rental lists every six months and felt the continual churn of keeping up on wait lists to find an affordable rental option. That was when she started thinking about Habitat, “it had stayed in the back of my mind.”

At first, she didn’t think homeownership was even possible. But when she reached out in 2020, the Habitat staff supported her through the application process. She took our homeownership courses, learned how to apply for an affordable loan, and identified a Habitat home and community that was the right fit for her in Pacific.

Elizabeth is grateful to the Habitat homeowner services team, who helped her identify the home in Pacific. Habitat was alongside her through the process, and she says, “I didn’t feel like I was on my own in this.” After a well-deserved, and long-awaited time, Elizabeth and Elijah moved into their PERMANENT home in Pacific this February.

Elijah’s favorite thing about his new home is the backyard and that the house is near the train tracks. He loves trains, and Elizabeth says that if we visit, we’d likely find them sitting and watching the trains or kicking the soccer ball in the backyard.