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Success Stories

See how hard work and your support can change New Yorkers’ lives.
Jose & Leocadia L.

“Owning a home will teach my kids to do the same when they grow up.”

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Jose & Leocadia L.

Jose & Leocadia L.

Jose and Leocadia L. and their daughter currently live in a studio apartment in Corona, Queens. The apartment is cramped, there is not enough privacy and far too many pests. After hearing about Habitat NYC from a coworker, Jose, who is a chef at a famous steakhouse in Manhattan, applied for the program, “because it was the only chance to get a decent home with my current income.”

What excites them most about owning a home – other than some privacy! – is setting an example for their daughter to achieve her own dreams. “Owning a home will teach my kids to do the same when they grow up,” Jose wrote.

Erneita D.

“The first thing I will do when we move in is say a prayer and thank God for this blessing.”

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Erneita D.

Erneita D.

Erneita D. has lived in New York City for more than 20 years, but she and her 11 year old daughter try to return to her native Jamaica once a year. The two share a rent-controlled one bedroom apartment in Flatbush, Brooklyn. The building is in good condition, with an attentive super, but it’s just not theirs.

“I’m working paycheck to paycheck, even though I work for the city, it’s paycheck to paycheck and you don’t really see what you’re gaining just paying rent. Owning your home, it’s yours. It’s a sense of security for myself and for my daughter.”

Erneita has been looking to buy a home, visiting open houses in her neighborhood to survey the market, but she never found anything in her price range. Although she knew about Habitat NYC for a few years, she decided to apply for its homes in East Brooklyn, which is near her existing neighborhood. She was accepted to the program, and will soon move into the Dean Street Condominium in Ocean-Hill/Brownsville.

Habitat NYC is helping Erneita make her dream of homeownership a reality, and she is humble and grateful, “The first thing I will do when we move in is say a prayer and thank God for this blessing.”

Jessica Y.

“What excites me of owning my own home is the independence and the accomplishment I will feel when I walk through those doors and the sacrifice was worth this moment.”

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Jessica Y.

Jessica Y.

Jessica Y. worked her way up in the recycling company where she works – she started out as a “picker,” someone who sorts recycled items as they come in, all the way up to a skilled Crane Operator. “I’m the only woman at my job. It’s in the construction field. I’m honored to work there, but it’s hard. Everything that the guys do, I have to do ten times better just to be seen as an equal partner.”

It’s no surprise that Jessica worked just as hard to make sure her finances were in order to purchase a home. However, when she tried to apply for a traditional mortgage, she was told she needed a co-applicant. “For about a year or two I was looking, but everything was too expensive, or no [banks] accepted me without being married or without my parents as a co-sign,” Jessica told us. She was beginning to lose hope. Until she found Habitat NYC. “I found out about Habitat through my mom,” she said. “She saw in the newspapers that you could apply for a home, and I did and now I’m here today!”

All of Jessica’s saving and budgeting was worth it when she was accepted into Habitat NYC’s Home Purchase program, one month to the day that her father passed away. “He was waiting for that,” she told us. “My dad was the financial guy, taught me how to use a bank account. I know he’s very excited [for me].”

Becoming a Habitat homebuyer took all the stress and anxiety around buying a home, “With Habitat I feel like I can afford the mortgage and have a life. On Saturday nights I can go to dinner somewhere. With the other banks I thought ‘I’m not going to have a dollar to my name.’ Habitat helped me in that I don’t feel that pressure. It feels very doable.”

All of Jessica’s striving and saving and discipline will be worth it the first time she walks through her apartment door. “What excites me of owning my own home is the independence and the accomplishment I will feel when I walk through those doors and the sacrifice was worth this moment,” she said. “The first thing I will do when I move in is thank God and laugh and cry [with] joy.”

Mike & Gladys M.

“Habitat NYC opens a door,” he marvels, "and so many other chapters of your life are opened up because of that.”

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Mike & Gladys M.

Mike & Gladys M.

View Mike and Gladys M.’s story.

Eleven years ago, Mike and Gladys M. were raising their three daughters, ages ten, seven and four, in a cramped one-bedroom apartment. They were always on the lookout for better, more permanent housing, but with the cost of living in New York City outpacing Mike’s wages as a truck driver, it seemed like a pipe dream.

All that changed when they discovered Habitat NYC.

In March of 2006, this close-knit family completed its “sweat equity”— the hours of labor that Habitat homeowners dedicate to building their own homes and the homes of their neighbors. With help from Habitat NYC’s many generous supporters and volunteers, they were able to achieve what had seemed like an impossible dream: owning a home in New York City.

For Gladys, the time spent working with her family on the construction of their home was its own reward. “It was a wonderful thing to put my hands on a building that I was going to live in afterwards,” she recalls.

Mike is thankful that the stability of homeownership has led to great things for his family. “Habitat NYC opens a door,” he marvels, “and so many other chapters of your life are opened up because of that.”

Mike, Gladys and their daughters have lived since then in their own house: a comfortable, energy-efficient three-bedroom Habitat home in Jamaica, Queens. Their daughters, Mikayla, now 21 and a college student, Kristiana, now 18 and a college student, and Analiese, now 15 and in high school, have grown up in a spacious home with a yard and a vegetable garden.

Remembering the experience of becoming a Habitat homeowner, Gladys recalls the spirit of community that helped make it possible. “It was the people who helped build it that made the home,” she says. “Not just the family.”

Billy & Anna T.

“All the volunteers who have worked with me on my future home are here not for their families, not for a paycheck, not for any personal gain. They are from all walks of life giving their own time to help build my family’s home and they're not only drilling, sawing and hammering with precision, they're drilling sawing hammering with their HEARTS!! Together we are building a better home for my family, and they are helping dreams come true.”

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Billy & Anna T.

Billy & Anna T.

In February of this 2016, Billy T. and his wife Anna lived in a cramped one bedroom apartment in Midtown Manhattan with their two children, daughter Maya and son Layne. Billy and Maya slept on a pull out couch in the living room so that Anna and Layne could sleep in the bedroom.

It was time for a change.

Through the Carter Work Project, Habitat NYC renovated a three-bedroom home in Rosedale Queens for the family. More than being three-times bigger than their midtown apartment, the house has a backyard, which is great news for their dog Snoopy, who had been living with Anna’s mother.

Billy and Anna are both immigrants – he from Taiwan and she from Russia – and they are finally able to achieve a piece of the American dream: homeownership.

Billy, an audio-visual engineer, used his remaining vacation days to put in the sweat equity required for a Habitat Home.

“I’m doing this build for my family, for our future,” said Billy. “All the volunteers who have worked with me on my future home are here not for their families, not for a paycheck, not for any personal gain. They are from all walks of life giving their own time to help build my family’s home and they’re not only drilling, sawing and hammering with precision, they’re drilling sawing hammering with their HEARTS!! Together we are building a better home for my family, and they are helping dreams come true.”

Yvette P.

“If Habitat didn’t exist, I don’t think I would have been able to buy a place and own my own home. It’s so important to me to have a good home for my kids. I'm doing all this for them,” she said.

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Yvette P.

Yvette P.

Prior to partnering with Habitat NYC, Yvette P. had been living in a one bedroom apartment with her two daughters, Stacey and Samara. The apartment was cramped, moldy, and the ceiling was constructed with dangerous asbestos.

Yvette completed 400 hours of sweat equity, helping to hang drywall, paint and accomplish numerous other projects. She even volunteered after her requirement was completed!

Now she, Stacey and Samara live in a mold and asbestos-free three bedroom apartment. Each has their own room for the first time. Yvette especially enjoys tending to the garden in front of their new home.

Yvette says her Habitat experience has been life-transforming: “If Habitat didn’t exist, I don’t think I would have been able to buy a place and own my own home. It’s so important to me to have a good home for my kids. I’m doing all this for them,” she said.

“I want to have a good home for my kids,” she said. “My daughter is planning to go to grad school, and my other daughter just started kindergarten. I want a nice place for them to live. I’m doing all this for them.”

Voncille C.

“When I got the call that I was approved for Habitat’s program, it didn’t seem real. I wanted to pinch myself. Words can’t even explain how excited I was. I feel so lucky. I’ve always known that one day I’d have my house, and now it’s happening.”

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Voncille C.

Voncille C.

Voncille C. and her son Ahmai initially lived in East New York to save money, but she didn’t feel safe returning home late and Ahmai couldn’t play outside. After their neighborhood experienced multiple shootings, she knew she had to move and find a safe place to raise her son.

Voncille grew up in the St. Albans area of Queens and had always dreamed of living in a home near there. When she learned that Habitat NYC was renovating vacant homes near her childhood neighborhood, she knew it was a perfect fit.

“When I got the call that I was approved for Habitat’s program, it didn’t seem real. I wanted to pinch myself. Words can’t even explain how excited I was. I feel so lucky. I’ve always known that one day I’d have my house, and now it’s happening.”

Voncille’s Habitat home is just ten minutes away from where she grew up.

“I want my son to have a house. I want him to have a yard to run around in, just like I had.”

Voncille recently closed on their Habitat house in Queens, and take great pride in their new status as homeowners.

“It’s relaxing,” Voncille said. “No matter what happens during the day, I know I can go home to my cozy, relaxing home. I love the view, and I like to jog around the neighborhood, so I get more exercise. I feel safe and secure.”

Perhaps the most important accomplishment of all?  “My son got his first bike.”

When asked what owning a home means to her, Voncille said simply, “Determination and dedication pays off.” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves!

Selina S.

“Lifelong New Yorkers realize early on that their childhood is like no one else’s. All sorts of opportunities are at our fingertips. The streets here sparkle! Lifelong New Yorkers also realize how tough it can be to raise a family here but know it is absolutely worth it.

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Selina S.

Selina S.

Selina S. is a mother of three girls and a lifelong New Yorker. After becoming a Habitat Homeowner in Queens, she shared her experience with Habitat’s program and what it means for her family:

“Lifelong New Yorkers realize early on that their childhood is like no one else’s. All sorts of opportunities are at our fingertips. The streets here sparkle! Lifelong New Yorkers also realize how tough it can be to raise a family here but know it is absolutely worth it.

I work hard to provide for my daughters. So when they asked me for a backyard, I worked even harder to give it to them. However the more I researched it, I began to feel defeated. How can I save aggressively enough to afford a home for my girls while paying for our day to day? I teach my children that when something seems impossible, that it is in fact possible!

I researched programs and then I found Habitat NYC. What surprised me the most was how accessible everyone was and how they were all working hard to help my family accomplish a goal. This goal that seemed 20 years into the future is now right in front of me. The only better feeling than that is being a mother to the funniest girls in town.”