The rising housing costs in Nashville are not reasonable for a single mother of three on one income, Monae says. She is a native Nashvillian and loves the city but she has struggled to pay off college debts and living expenses paying almost $1,000 a month for her last apartment. Her children range in ages from 15 to 2 years old. Monae has worked for the IRS since 2016 and has her bachelor’s degree from Bethel University in business management and leadership. She recently moved in with her mother, who has been a Habitat for Humanity homeowner for 25 years, to help pay off debt and save for her homeownership opportunity. She applied for the Habitat homeownership program and qualified. She slept on an air mattress with her youngest son in her mother’s living room, willing to make the sacrifices necessary to become a homeowner. She says her mother’s home has been a “lifesaver to save and get back on my feet. This will help my kids to see you just have to put your mind to it. It all starts with baby steps, one step at a time.”
Shameka looked at the exposed electrical wires in her two-bedroom apartment and just shook her head. Her apartment is affordable but the constant maintenance issues worry her, along with the talk that the apartment complex might get sold to a developer. There is no place for her two young daughters to play outside and the frequent gunshot sounds make her nervous. She wants a safer and more stable environment for her family.
Shameka got her certification as an administrative assistant from the Tennessee College of Applied Science. She is also a certified nurse assistant and has worked as a caregiver most of her life. She currently works at AbilisHealth as an intake assistant. She would like to further her education in insurance verification one day, but first she needs to find a better environment for her family.
Shameka has several family members who are Habitat for Humanity homeowners, including her mother, and she likes the stability that a consistent monthly mortgage payment offers them. “Habitat is affordable and it’s a good program,” she says. “It makes me believe in dreams and motivates me to stay positive. I am a single mother who is trying to give my kids a better life.” Shameka qualified for the Habitat homeownership program and is attending homeownership classes and will work with her sponsors on the build site to earn a 0% APR mortgage. She wants her children to be able to play outside and live in a safer environment.
To her sponsors she says, “Thank you for taking time out of your busy life to help me and my family.”
Jazmyn is a graduate of East Literature Magnet High School and a Nashville native. “My family lives here and I want my son to grow up with them in his life,” she says. After high school, Jazmyn attended Middle Tennessee State University, where she studied to become a social worker. She has worked for CVS Caremark as a call center representative. “I love my current position,” she says. “I get to assist the elderly by educating them about their prescription drugs.” Jazmyn plans on going back to school and finishing her degree in social work. “I want to serve as a social worker in the metro school system,” she says. “Homeownership is my best option to provide equity, stability, and most importantly safety for us,” she says. After speaking to her grandmother who is a Habitat homeowner, Jazmyn decided to apply for Habitat’s homeownership program. Jazmyn was living with a friend before she entered the Habitat program but moved back in with her parents to save money to pay for moving and closing costs.
A graduate of the Magdalene House program who worked at Thistle Farms, Ronza went back to school to become a licensed drug and alcohol counselor and now works at Meharry Medical College as a recovery counselor. Owning a home is one of her biggest dreams. “Where I currently live, there is a lot of drug trafficking and I know the dangers and want to distance myself from that harmful lifestyle. I want a place where I can host friends and family, especially during the holidays. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Thank you for giving me my biggest dream. Thank you for blessing and giving me a once and lifetime opportunity to do the one thing I have always wanted. I promise I will not let this opportunity be squandered. God bless you all,” she said. Ronza's build starts April 29!
Sierra graduated with honors from Maplewood High School and currently works in customer service with Aramark. She has tried to find other housing arrangements and discovered that she does not qualify for subsidized apartments because of her income. However, she doesn’t make enough to afford the standard market rate for rent and her credit score wasn’t high enough to qualify for an affordable interest rate with a traditional mortgage. Her cousin, who is a Habitat homeowner in the Park Preserve neighborhood, encouraged her to consider Habitat. Sierra says she applied for two reasons: “Habitat offers an affordable, zero percent interest mortgage and the neighborhood is very close (walking distance) to my parents.” She adds, “Becoming a homeowner will bless my life. I will be able to provide a home for my child. She will have her own bed, room, and space, and we will no longer be a burden to others.”
Sakiah began employment with Fresenius Medical Care in March 2015 and works with prescription orders for dialysis patients. Currently, she and her son live with her parents, two sisters, and a niece in a small, three-bedroom house. Sakiah and and her son share the open entertainment room in the house as their bedroom. She researched affordable housing options and found that she didn’t qualify for income-based rental options and traditional mortgages and rent would have been a financial burden. “I applied,” Sakiah explains, “because I knew homeownership through Habitat would be affordable and that I could provide a better living condition for my son. Being a homeowner will change our lives in so many ways. We will be able to have privacy and feel comfortable. I will take pride in being able to afford a home that’s safe for my son.”
Ja'Nea grew up with six siblings in the Preston Taylor community and she really valued the sense of family that surrounded her. She wants the same for her son, Caleb. Ja'Nea is a Pearl Cohn High School graduate and is currently taking business administration classes at the University of Phoenix. She plans to graduate in 2016. She loves her job as a Financial Services Representative for Verizon and worked for Kroger for eight years before that. Ja'Nea is at a place in her life where she feels she has stability and is ready to buy a home. "My friends laugh and call me old-fashioned," she says with a grin. "I want a place where my son can come home to anytime he wants." Ja'Nea didn't qualify for a conventional mortgage and heard about Habitat's homeownership program through friends. She also watched as her mother went through Habitat's homeownership program in 2005. "The (homeownership) classes have helped me think about setting aside money for retirement." To her Women Build sponsors she says, "Without you, owning my home would not have been possible."
Betty grew up in South Sudan along with her six siblings, who were all reared by their maternal grandmother. "She taught us good behavior and that life is difficult," recalled Betty. Sudan's civil war erupted when Betty was 16 years old and she fled with her grandmother and three sisters to the Kakuma refugee camp in Kenya, where she lived for six years. "Sometimes they give you food, sometimes not," she recalled of that difficult time. Betty's oldest son, Charles, was born in the refugee camp and was 3 years old when he, Betty, and Betty's youngest sister were relocated to South Dakota. Betty had cousins in Nashville who introduced her to Andrew, who was from her home village in South Sudan. She joined him here in Nashville and they eventually had five children—two sons and three daughters. In early 2013, Andrew left Nashville to go back to South Sudan to care for his ailing mother. Betty says she misses him and isn't sure when he can return to the U.S. Housing was difficult for the large family. Currently, Betty rents a three-bedroom apartment for $1,000 a month compared to her interest-free Habitat mortgage, which will run approximately $600 a month and also includes a fourth bedroom. "Everyone I know with a Habitat home is happy," says Betty. "The children will know that it's a permanent place." To her sponsors she says, "I hope one day I can do for others what you are doing for me."
Molly has deep roots in East Nashville where she has lived her entire life. “I had a good childhood. I was the baby in my family and most of my friends lived within a two-block area. We got to hang out until the street lights came on and my house was the hang out spot. Ikeda has been my best friend since I was 4 years old. There are 80 years of history between our families. Our grannies were best friends.” Molly wants to provide that same sense of stability and belonging for her son, Christian. “He’s truly a blessing in my life. He’s so caring and sweet. I want him to have a basketball goal, a yard with grass he can cut, and other kids to play with. All the normal kid things.” Molly also has two grown daughters, Shonta and Janai, and two granddaughters, Zion and Jeriyah.
Molly has overcome a lot in her life. “I got pregnant at 15. My daughter’s father was a great father, but he passed away on her 14th birthday. I went through a very tough relationship after that and I was under so much pressure. I wanted my kids to have everything and I pushed myself into having a mild stroke and heart attack. I lost my first home because my health issues meant I couldn’t work anymore.” Molly worked in medical billing for 19 years and still misses her career. “Being on disability can be very depressing because you feel like you’re not part of society. That’s why one of my top priorities now is finding part-time work. I feel God gave me a second chance to become a homeowner and I love that I can ‘pay it forward’. Habitat has created a beautiful way to not only bless their homeowners, but to give their homeowners a chance to bless others. Christian and I are so happy to be part of Habitat. The budgeting classes have really changed our lives and we can’t wait to decorate our home and invite friends and family over for dinner. Thank you so much for your support. I appreciate everything that you do to help me succeed in reaching a wonderful goal. I pray that God blesses you richly.”
Danielle grew up in East Nashville with her mother and twin sister. “I’ve been in Nashville my whole life. I can find my way around just about anywhere.” She is raising her own family here now and her life revolves around her children. “I like to see them smile and I want them all to feel loved. They keep me grounded.” Danielle studied nursing at Tennessee State University and is a licensed practical nurse. She’s considering becoming a registered nurse after she is settled in her new Habitat home. She currently reviews appeals for Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina. “I like being able to approve claims for Medicare patients for things like wheelchairs. It feels good to know I’m helping people.”
Danielle has always dreamt of owning her own home and learned about Habitat from her cousin, who is a Habitat homeowner. “It’s been an inspiration to see her leave MDHA and provide a better life for her family. I applied for other mortgages a few years ago but I was denied.” Danielle is the first homeowner in her immediate family and she has had support from many people to take this important step. “Everyone’s excited. My sister and my mom are very supportive and are helping to watch the kids while I’m in class and while I am building.” She hopes that becoming a homeowner will “show my kids that if you dream and work towards something, it will pay off in the end.” They are all so thankful to Nashville’s women leaders who are sponsoring their home as a part of this year’s Women Build. “I thank the Lord for sending these wonderful people into my life. Words really can’t express how I feel. Thank you for donating and volunteering your time. My family is so blessed. I know it isn’t always easy to take time away from your own families to give back to the community. My family and I are so grateful – thank you!”
Ebony says, “I’m taking steps in reaching my goals” towards homeownership. When she received her keys on Dedication Day, she knew it was a huge blessing. Nashville has been Ebony’s home her entire life. For the past four years, she has worked at Walgreens to support her family as the head photo specialist. Ebony is the proud mother of two children. When asked why she came to Habitat, Ebony said, “Whenever I want something to happen, I ask myself, ‘What can I do to make this happen?’ So far I’ve taken steps to reach my goals by being proactive, and taking the responsibility to make things happen.” Ebony’s goal was to invest in a home to provide the best possible future for her children, and she was determined to make her dream come true. Having her own home is the start of a “new beginning” for her family, relying on the stability and safety that she feels in a home she calls her own.
Latoria works for Alive Hospice as a care partner and she plans to go back to school to become an occupational therapist. She has dreamed of owning her own home since the birth of her daughters. She knows that becoming a homeowner through Nashville Habitat will help her provide a new beginning for her to spend more time with her family.
At the time of her application, Latoria lived in a subsidized apartment where there was lots of crime. The situation was bad enough that she was forced to move before she could wait on a Habitat home. When she found out that she was accepted into the Habitat program, she called her grandmother, Vera, and danced around the room! Latoria feels she is raising her children in a safer environment. She is a very proud mother and is excited about what the future holds for her and her children. She attributes getting into Habitat “a blessing from the Lord” and wishes to thank her sponsor and Nashville Habitat for helping her to become a Habitat homeowner.
Shandora wished for a brighter future for her children. Born in Chicago, Shandora moved to Tennessee at age 3 to live in a foster home and spent many years moving between various group homes, shelters, and independent living homes. When she became a mother at 18, Shandora signed herself out of state custody and began to dream of building a more stable life for herself and her children. Today, Shandora works at Macy’s Department Store, where she has been employed since 2000, and is currently the merchandising manager at the Cool Springs location. She and her two children lived in a manufactured home that was in bad need of repair before she moved into her Habitat home. Shandora is very grateful to her sponsors and the hardworking ladies of the Women Build team for their generosity in helping her achieve ownership of a safe, stable Habitat home.