Tamara was living out of a single room in her mom’s house with her three children when she applied to Habitat for Humanity. Previously, she lived in section 8 housing with her son’s father in an unstable and toxic relationship and when he passed she was no longer eligible for the program. She didn’t have any other plans for attaining stable housing. “I was just going to be at my mom’s. I was going to try and purchase a home, but I wouldn’t have been ready ever. I wouldn’t have been able to afford it. If I would have had a mortgage for a thousand dollars, I wouldn’t have survived. I probably would have lost it by now, because of the economy and taxes to pay. I’m still living paycheck to paycheck, but [my home is] affordable.”
This was Tamara’s third attempt at owning a Habitat home. She’d made a promise to herself years ago, while doing work in the Bellevue area, that she would make that a part of her future. “I was working for Union Gospel Mission, and Habitat had just started building these places. And I walked all the way up this hill, and they had the condos over there, the first ones they built. And I looked up, and I said, ‘one day, Lord.’ I said ‘one day, Lord, I will have one of these’.” Each time she was turned down, Tamara worked to improve the negative aspects of her application. She paid her debts off and focused on raising her credit scores. And even though Tamara has been in her house for over ten years she’s still working to get better at budgeting and maintaining her scores.
Tamara still comes up against struggles as a homeowner but she’s been able to make it work. The financial commitment has been an obstacle she’s overcome. Since she moved in, her HOA dues are six times what they were but she wasn’t going to let anything happen to her home. “If I was living somewhere else I don’t think I’d still have a house because of the mortgages… Because of all the high cost of living right now, I wouldn’t be here. I probably would be still at my mother’s house. I wouldn’t be here. So I am very blessed to be living in a habitat for humanity home in Seattle!”
While some Habitat families eventually sell their houses back to Habitat and move into different phases of their lives, Tamara doesn’t plan on going anywhere. “Why should I give away what I have? No! This is like a dream-vacation home, but it’s my house!… This is spacious. I’ve been here ten years, this here, it doesn’t get old… the whole space just grows with time. It never gets old to me.” Her house has given her the freedom to move at her own pace and even start her own business teaching flagger certification classes for construction workers. She’s learned the benefits of having a routine in different areas of her life and to set an example for her children, who are now grown and starting their own families. It’s allowed them to see her succeed and she hopes to empower her three grandchildren in the same way while continuing to support her children when they need it. “I want to help them to grow in their goals and their dreams, what they want to do, what they want to be… I want them to have whatever they want for themselves. They can get it and not feel like the world is on their shoulders.”