Ebony Wilson’s Story

Ebony Wilson is one of our newest applicants to finish our homeownership process. We are currently finishing up her home.

Before Ebony turned in her application for the Habitat Homeownership program she had gone to the meetings two times and never turned in the applications. But the first time she decided to turn it in she was approved. Being a full-time mother working two jobs and consistently renting never owning a home lead Ebony to the decision to contact Habitat. Some of the challenges Ebony faced as a first time home buyer including inadequate credit, low income and lack of a down payment.

Ebony lived in an older small two bedroom home with her four children. Which she said was not enough space for her and her children on her budget. In her home, her son’s bed had to be located in the living room and her daughters shared a bed against a barricaded door. “The lack of living spaces and old wiring in the home makes the house a struggle to live in”, she said. They have lived in these conditions for 2 ½ years. While living in this home Ebony felt isolated because she could not have family over. She told us that if Habitat could help her, her life would be different.

After being approved for the Habitat homeownership program she has experienced many benefits. Ebony was working two jobs from 10 pm to 8 am and would work her hours for Habitat after her shifts. She said, “It is stressful but it has been good and the children are very excited.” When she was having a hard time Cheryl and LaJuan were there to give her advice. She said she sees Habitat as family.

Of the many goals Ebony has for her families’ future she believes habitat’s help will make working on her credit, finishing college, owning her own business, and sending her children to college attainable. She has already seen an increase in her money from work and is working better hours. Since being accepted into the Habitat program the benefits for Ebony have been great. She told us that, “It has been a life changer!”


Eva LeGrada’s Story

Eva was living in the house from her past marriage. There were holes in the floor, broken windows, and the roof was not good. She said, “there were holes everywhere the house was in bad shape, bad condition.” She and her son lived in those conditions for 13 years. She said they were so scared and they didn’t have anywhere else to go. During that time she experienced many consequences from living in an indecent home. At the time her son was 8 years old and he was getting sick from the home. Eva said they had a lot of issues living in a house with holes. There were high electric bills, the air conditioner was working but it was not staying in the house. Also, there were a lot of mice and bugs getting in the house.  She had no money to fix these problems. She said, “I didn’t even have the money to have someone help me to repair this kind of stuff.”

The first time Eva applied she did not qualify and the next year she was scared of trying. So she waited another year and in 2017 after applying again she was accepted. Eva knew she wanted to have a secure, safe and decent house to live in. Eva has been working part-time for an ESL program and then works her Habitat hours. She currently has 100 habitat hours left to go. She said, “Getting accepted is a blessing.”

Since partnering with Habitat Eva is hopeful that soon she will be able to earn the money to go to college to get a certificate. Eva is so excited for her new home. She said, “I can’t wait to live in my house because without Habitat I was not able to have a decent house.” Eva will begin building her new home with Habitat on May 26th. It is going to be a two bedroom 1 ½ bath. “It is like my dream come true Eva said I can’t wait to live in my new house.”


Angelica Davis’s Story

Angelica currently lives in a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom house with her 4 children and mother. She says, “It’s hard to live there because there is not enough space.” Before Angelica contacted Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity she spoke to a current Habitat homeowner who told her about the program and later on she ran across a flyer. She said, “I applied when I got the information. I didn’t think I would get accepted, but I did!”

The reason Angelica reached out to Habitat was because she is a single parent and has to support herself and her children without any help from their dads. When asked about the problems she and her family were facing Angelica stated, “The main problem was not having enough space for my 4 children and I to grow. Because we are such a large family the rent and cost of living is high.” Also, she worries about the environment around them. The house they rent is located on a busy road.  Angelica told us, “there is a lot of violence, police, paramedics, and it just doesn’t seem safe.” Angelica has lived in this house for the past 4 years dealing with crowded spaces and not being able to allow her kids to play outside. Angelica said, “I wanted them to have a fenced in yard. They need their own space to be able to grow as individuals in their own creative ways.”

We asked Angelica how her life would be different if Habitat helped her. She said, “If Habitat can help bless me with assistance with a decent and affordable housing for my big family my life will be different because I would have a place for my family to be independent.” Since being a part of the Northeast Texas Habitat for Humanity program Angelica told us that she has benefited by becoming more responsible. The program has prepared her for home-ownership. She said she now understands the value of a home since building a home from the ground up. Angelica said, “All around Habitat has helped me grow as a person.”  “(Habitat is) the best thing that has happened in my life.” So far Angelica has logged 200 of her hours. She needs 150 more to complete the whole program.


Mrs. Sharon Pickett’s Story


Mrs. Sharon Pickett had water coming into her home for a while. It’s been flooding for 4 years and her insurance company was unable to help because she could not prove where the water was coming from. Nico, our construction manager was able to detect the source of the water was from the roof.
Mrs. Sharon Pickett is 78 years old and has been living in Longview for over 40 years. Her husband of 42 years, passed away 17 years ago and through the years things with the house changed. Due to a limited income and being on social security, Mrs. Pickett tried to handle the problem on her own. She said, “I had the carpet and the pad removed due to mold.” She tried to keep water from going all over the place. She tried using sandbags and store-bought items. She was unable to figure out how the water was getting in. Mrs. Pickett stayed in a constant state of worry (her words, and confirmed by the daughter – in- law) when it rain because she had to shop vac the entering water.
We asked her how she heard about Habitat. She said a lawyer for the elderly mention Habitat to her and her daughter helped her with applying. I never thought I would qualify because I already have a place to live,”’ she said.
Mrs. Pickett said she is so thrilled about her new roof, it is an architect roof, she said. I never dreamed I’d get one. It’s wonderful! She wanted to make sure Nico and Cheryl got a big thanks. They were so courteous and kind. Also, she wanted to thank Gerald, on Pine Tree road for the excellent job he did. She said, “I got to pick out the colors and do the whole thing, and I thought that was very special.” I got a whole roof for $400. I couldn’t ask for anyone to do a better job.


  Mr. Duraso’s Story

Mr. Duraso, retired from the U.S. Air Force after 13 years of distinguished service.  When we met him, he had not had heating and cooling capabilities in his home for nine years. In fact, he had called repair companies on previous occasions and was given estimates of several thousands of dollars. A cost he simply could not afford.  The Northeast Habitat for Humanity Veteran repair program came in and discovered that not only could the unit be repaired, but the cost of the repair was only $200.00!  This easy fix gave him the opportunity to also have safety issues addressed.  The leaking roof was replaced, damaged floors repaired and the bathroom was remodeled.  His shower was unusable, and he could no longer navigate in and out of his garden tub.  Mr. Duraso’ home is now secure from rain, a comfortable temperature year-round, he doesn’t worry about falling through the floor and he has a usable shower.

 

 


Mr. Wall’s Story

WWII Veteran James Wall is lovingly described as a “work-a-holic” by his wife who told us, “I don’t even bother asking him to sit down anymore.”  James has lived quite the life.  After returning from the war, he worked as a pastor, became the first African-American principal in Carthage, and found time to serve as County Commissioner.

Today, Mr. Wall may be retired but he is definitely not sitting still! He is focused on maintaining his home and yard as well as he possibly can.  That takes a lot of work.

But keeping up that pace, or just living in East Texas for that matter, requires air conditioning and occasional heat.  A few years ago, the Wall’s HVAC unit began to fail.  Mr. and Mrs. Wall spent quite a bit of time, effort and money – around $900 per year – trying to keep the unit running.  Eventually, though, it failed.  An AC company quoted them a range of from $8,000 to $15,000 to replace their unit.

Paying this exorbitant amount for a new HVAC unit was not possible (or advisable) for the Wall’s.  But having clean, comfortable air to breathe and live in was a necessity.  Through the Veterans Critical Home Repair and Modification program, the Wall’s received a new unit and the attending installation adjustments to their home.  The cost to the program was $5,000.  After a few years of troubling living conditions, the Wall’s are no longer stretching the confines of their budget, comfort, health and safety standards in order to live in their home.

NETHFH staff stopped by the Wall’s home to take a photo of the completed project. There was only a quick second to snap a photo of James, rake in hand before he got back to work.


Billy’s Story

Billy, a U.S. Army veteran had water seeping into his home from ground level for a very long time.  The water weakened the wall and rotted the drywall.  The repair team discovered that a leak in the French drain created the problem.  The drain was repaired, the water flow diverted away from home, and we repaired the damaged walls.

 

 

 

 

 


Tiffany’s Story

Tiffany heard about Habitat from a friend who worked for Habitat. She called and was put on the waiting list. We asked Tiffany to tell us about her current living situation. She shared with us that she struggles with finances every month. She barely makes any money and it is hard to pay her bills, also the landlord is reluctant to fix problems at the trailer she lives in. She has two kids a daughter who is 16 and a son who is 10. She said, because they are older it makes it hard to keep them in the same bedroom, so a three bedroom house would be ideal.

Tiffany is a single parent, not by choice, she says. She has faced many challenges trying to solve her housing problems. She told us she is doing her best to stay in the area for her children’s safety and future. Her daughter is entering her high school year and cry’s because she wants to stay at her school and graduate from high school without moving to a new location. Her daughter even started working to help out the family.

Tiffany said, “I’ve sacrificed and worked really hard to graduate with an Associates and a Bachelor’s degree.” Tiffany lived in shelters and low-income housing all while working and going to school and even though she has these degrees she said, “I find it almost impossible to find a job that pays well.”

Tiffany has worked many jobs. She has been a hospital unit clerk, a CNA, and a rehab tech which paid really good money but she was not able to keep because of her ex-husband. She currently works at Goodwill where she has been an employee for 5 years. She says, “It doesn’t pay well but it is safe from her ex-husband. Tiffany told us she deals with multiple injuries and PTSD caused by past situations. She said her problems of living in bad housing began when she was 17. Her mother moved away and Tiffany was left by herself raising her sister and her own daughter.

Tiffany believes that if NETHFH can help her achieve her family’s goal of homeownership she will feel like the struggle was worth it and her kids can be stable and happy. She said, “I will have less stress equaling less health problems. I will have more money to provide more of the things my family needs, like my daughter’s braces.”

With the help of building a new home through NETHFH’s homeownership program, Tiffany sees her dream of finally having a home for her family come true. Through owning a new home with an affordable mortgage she hopes to be able to get her Master’s degree and continue her journey to success. She told us, “I want my kids to be proud to walk in my footsteps. I hope to pass the home down to my kids. I want to know my kids have a roof over them always.”

Tiffany has finished her habitat hours. She did so in 3 months after her back surgery. She even helps her friend Ebony (NETHFH Homeowner) clean and work on her house when she gets home from work. Even after all she has been through she remains strong and focused. She ended our conversation with a quote she holds dear. “The strength of a mother is unmeasurable, through God and prayer.”

 


Kathy’s Story

Kathy is a 50-something year old, native of Longview. She spent much of her adult life working in a local plant.  Approximately ten years ago she became medically disabled.  As her illness advanced, the physical disability made walking very difficult.  In fact, she was unable to leave her home without physical assistance due to the stairs at the front and back doors.  She could not step up and into her standard bathtub at all.  Because she lives alone, this made Kathy a virtual prisoner in her own home.

Through the repair program, NETHFH contracted with a professional subcontractor and supervised the installation of a walk-in shower, grab bars and raised toilet in her only bathroom. For the first time in several years, Kathy was able to take a full shower, rather than simply “washing up” at the sink each day.

A few weeks later a group of volunteers led by the NETHFH construction manager arrived and built a ramp at the entrance to her home. When the work was completed and using a walker, she made her way to the bottom of the ramp, kicked off her shoes and stepped onto the lawn. With tears streaming down her face, she said. “I have not felt the grass beneath my feet in five years. Thank you.”  This program made her entire home accessible once again, provided a usable bathroom and shower, improved her safety by providing an accessible way in and out of the home and gave back independence that had been lost.

 

 

 

 

 

Learn more about our programs here.