Hard Choices: A Habitat Family Story

This story is a part of a series we are publishing called “Habitat Family Stories”. They’re the stories of our partner families from all walks of life in varying stages of their journey. Many of them have been in their Habitat homes for close to a decade. Get to know the families we work alongside by checking the “family story” tag

Bashir was completing a service year through the Americorp program when he learned about the Habitat for Humanity home ownership program. He worked for an organization called the Somali Society helping Somalian teenagers overcome the unique barriers to graduating from American high-schools. “It’s not like they’re not trying. It’s the language barrier, and the new culture, what is going to be accepted. This person would come in and it’d be like, okay, here’s high school—you figure it out. And graduate. And mom and dad don’t have any experience for what it is to be a high-schooler. So we were trying to build that gap … We were focused on that.”

While attending an all-Americorp meeting, Bashir was able to network with other members serving at varying organizations, and he came into contact with a Habitat for Humanity member who convinced him to apply. He was hesitant since he was 1 of 300 applicants for seven or eight houses and he tried looking for assistance before with section 8 but he and his wife made too much money. Bashir’s family of 8 were stuck in a 2 bedroom apartment, often choosing between saving money to move into a better situation and having enough food to feed everyone. “Your stomach doesn’t know… it’s not like because you have a roof over your head you don’t have to eat today. So that’s what I did. We needed to worry about food before other stuff.”

So when Bashir got the approval letter from Habitat, he was ecstatic. “I got the letter saying I was one of the selected people, and I was jumping up and down! Thinking, oh my god, I won the lottery! …That was the unexplainable thing… It’s like, somebody hands you your future, this opportunity right there.” The partnering process turned out to be just as rewarding for Bashir as receiving the home itself. “Someone like me… I didn’t grow up around anybody who has owned homes… all I know is apartment renting. How to figure out how the system works, how credit works, how you invest and think for the future, that’s not the way I learned… There’s so many things they’re teaching you. To own a house, that’s easy. To maintain it is the hardest part.”

Since attaining their home, Bashir has noticed the pride his family takes in it and the willingness to achieve more they have all taken on. Bashir himself has taken on the role of President of his community’s HOA. He’s also started to see his children believe in their new living situation and the shame they had over their old living arrangement fell away. “My kids never invited anybody home. No room. No place, they probably thought it was just like ‘nobody wants to come over here,’ or they were ashamed of themselves. That would be possible. I know in this house, they invite people over… come over, stay a bit, hang around.”

Bashir looks forward to relying on the stability that owning his home affords his family, setting an example for his children to become good community members and citizens of the world, and retiring in his home where he can enjoy the vibrant colors his family has painted each room of the house.