fbpx

Success Stories

See how hard work and your support can change New Yorkers’ lives.
Max and Michele E.

Max and Michele E. have been searching for a home of their own for years – they wanted a piece of the American Dream.

Learn More
Max and Michele E.

Max and Michele E.

Max and Michele E. have been searching for a home of their own for years – they wanted a piece of the American Dream. The parents of two young boys, they wanted to own a home where the boys could have their own rooms, and even a yard to play in. But it felt impossible to find a home in Brooklyn on Max’s salary – he has worked in a Cornell University research lab for more than 10 years, and Michele is a student who stays at home with the boys.

The family of four lived in an apartment near Brooklyn College, a quiet neighborhood close to transit. But the apartment was too small – four people in a one bedroom. It was cramped and there was little privacy. Max and Michele were beginning to despair by 2017.

Then, their happy ending hit Max right in the chest. One of Max’s colleagues has a wife who works in real estate, so he knows a good deal when he sees one. This colleague saw a Habitat NYC ad in a morning newspaper, and immediately thought of Max and his family. Then, at work, he took the paper and thumped Max right in the chest with it, telling him to apply. ‘I’m going to do what he says!’ Max remembers thinking.

Max got all of his papers in order and, never one to leave anything to chance, personally dropped them off at the Habitat NYC office. In March of 2018, the family got the news that they would soon purchase a single family home in Queens.

The search was over, and the American Dream was finally theirs.

Hicham N.

"I am extremely excited to own a new home. Owning a new home will make me feel safe and healthy."

Learn More
Hicham N.

Hicham N.

Hicham and his wife Salima are cramped. Hicham, who works as an IT field engineer at La Guardia Airport, and Salima, who stays home with the children, live four people in a one bedroom apartment. “We can’t move around,” Hicham says, “and the kids can’t play safely.” The house is cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and there’s mold and pests. Not a place for a growing family.

It’s time for the family to move, but because of the cost of living here in New York, they worried that they may have to move to another state.
The family looked into buying their own home through a traditional mortgage, but they couldn’t afford the down payments. Thankfully, Hicham heard about Habitat NYC from a friend. He researched the program and liked what he found – he applied and was accepted into the program. He kept an eye on his credit score, and made sure to pay all his bills on time in order to qualify.

“I am extremely excited to own a home,” Hicham told us. While some people are excited to decorate their new home, Naji has his mind on more practical matters: he is looking forward to learning all about the circuit breaker, the water main and even installing his own security system. “Owning a home will make me feel safe and healthy.”

Jose & Leocadia L.

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

Learn More
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.

Cassandra M.

"I am ready for this. I know it won’t be easy, but nothing in my past has been easy, and I’ve survived it all."

Learn More
Cassandra M.

Cassandra M.

Cassandra M. is a native New Yorker, who grew up in BedStuy, Brooklyn and in Queens. After Cassandra’s mother passed away when Cassandra was just a toddler, she was raised by a series of relatives. She dreamed of being a veterinarian, and has a passion for animals that remains to this day.

As a young girl, Cassandra loved to play and work in her Great-Aunt’s backyard and garden. As she got older, she helped to maintain the house and yard. She remembers the Muscadine grapes that grew in the yard – her Great-Aunt made wine from them, but Cassandra liked to eat them right off the vine. “I learned what it meant to take pride in your home and how it represents you,” she said.

By the time she was 16, Cassandra was working part time, running the household and caring for her elderly Great-Aunt, and yet, she graduated from high school and attended college for one year.

Cassandra worked as an NYCT Bus Operator for 13 years, and now is a Fleet Driver for a health insurance company. She has lived in her current home for nearly 20 years, but “I don’t call it home, because it’s not a home, not to me anyway.” She lives with her three ‘children,’ her cats Allae, Phelan and Tiggee. The building has had a series of issues, from blackouts (“Try climbing to the sixth floor with nothing but a flashlight.”) to a three-month period without an elevator. There is often garbage in the hallways, which smell like urine, and often residents do not clean up after their pets in the outdoor areas. She dreamed about living in a home, like she did as a child; for the past five years, she has looked into buying a home in Connecticut, Pennsylvania and North Carolina, but none of the houses were right.

Despite knowing about Habitat NYC’s Home Purchase Program, Cassandra never thought she would qualify. But in a twist of fate, she happened upon a Habitat NYC information session, and discovered that we were accepting applications for homeownership in South Jamaica. She applied, and hoped, and saved, and was accepted. She will be a Habitat homeowner. “I am ready for this,” she said. “I know it won’t be easy, but nothing in my past has been easy, and I’ve survived it all.”

She already feels ownership of her future Habitat home – she has shoveled snow from the sidewalk, her sidewalk. She has picked up flyers from the porch, and measured the fence in order to have it replaced. She plans to put in a garage. “I’m so excited [that] I want to do everything as fast as possible,” she said.

Vanessa G.

“I grew up in a house because of my parents' sacrifice and dedication. I want the same thing for my girls."

Learn More
Vanessa G.

Vanessa G.

Vanessa G. takes care of people. She is a mom to two beautiful girls, and works at Columbia University in the procurement department, where she helps to ensure that the school operates smoothly, helping of thousands of students and faculty every day.

However, it was hard for Vanessa to take care of her family’s living situation. The three were living in an apartment in Harlem, but Vanessa didn’t feel safe there. “I want my girls to grow up the way I did,” Vanessa told us, “in a safe and clean environment.” So she and her girls moved in with Vanessa’s parents, in the home where Vanessa grew up. But the home is getting cramped with all five of them.

Vanessa learned about Habitat NYC about 10 years ago, when she had her eldest daughter. In preparation for her application, Vanessa made sure to keep her credit score healthy and even sold her car to keep her debt down. And now, finally, Vanessa will be a Habitat Homeowner in Queens.

“I grew up in a house because of my parents’ sacrifice and dedication. I want the same thing for my girls,” she told us. “This opportunity is amazing and I am so excited.”

Lizar A.

“I am just thankful that I can leave something behind for my son, so he can have a head start. A safe and comfortable place where he can lay his head and call home."

Learn More
Lizar A.

Lizar A.

As a Community Associate for the City of New York, Lizar A. oversees five shelters, helping others find permanent housing. But providing a safe, affordable home for herself and her son Ajahnai, proved difficult. Lizar and Ajahnai live in a comfortable apartment, but the neighborhood isn’t safe – Lizar rarely feels safe outside, the parks nearby are dirty and dangerous and her neighbors play loud music all night long. It’s a situation they want to improve.

Lizar, who was born and raised in the Caribbean and came to the US when she was 20, wants more than a safe, affordable apartment. She wants to purchase a home. Her goal, as she puts it, “is to reach [the top of] Maslow’s hierarchy of needs – self-actualization – meeting my full potential.”

Lizar attended a few other first time homebuyers programs, but after being referred to Habitat NYC by a friend of a friend, she applied and was accepted into our Home Purchase Program. She kept on top of her finances and attended seminars, and now, she is well on her way to becoming a Habitat Homeowner.

“I am just thankful that I can leave something behind for my son, so he can have a head start,” Lizar said. “A safe and comfortable place where he can lay his head and call home. Being a homeowner allows you to see where your hard-earned money is being invested, and is a great lesson for my son.”

Something else in the family’s future? A potential dog!

Janet R.

"Owning a home means being able to plan my future."

Learn More
Janet R.

Janet R.

Janet R. is a life-long New Yorker who lived with her mother and her nephew before moving into her Habitat home. However, it was an uncertain living situation; she didn’t know how long she wanted to stay with her family. She was a little nervous about moving out – she had never lived on her own before!

One day, she saw a new building being constructed in the South Bronx with affordable units for sale. Curious, she googled the building and discovered that Habitat NYC was associated with the project. She clicked on the Habitat NYC link and, as she says, “the rest is history.”

“I tried to back out three times! I was nervous!,” she told us. “Because I had never done anything like this before. But it was simple enough. I sent in the paper work, I filed it, I went in for the meetings. Everything gets laid out when you’re applying. All the rules are there. There’s nothing you’re getting into that you’re not aware of.”

Janet works as an administrative employee of New York State’s Unified Court System, advocating for patients in psychiatric hospitals. She is also an avid Yankees fan.

For sweat equity, Janet says, “I painted, I nailed, I did drywall…” She even went to an open house of the building where she did her sweat equity – to see her handiwork complete. After completing her equity and completing the application and purchasing process, she closed on a one-bedroom apartment, where she now lives with her husband.

Janet has been a homeowner since 2010. She says that owning her home, “means being able to plan my future.”

Ownership gives Janet and her husband freedom from worrying about how to afford the next apartment. “If we want to travel,” says Janet, “we can. We don’t have to worry about ‘Oh, we’re going to move in a year or in six months.’ And if we do move, it’s a choice, not an obligation.”

Her advice for potential Habitat applicants? “Do it. It was the best decision for me. If you start the process and don’t like it, you can always stop. But if you never start it, you’ll never know if it was for you or not.”

Jen T.

"I'm getting so much out of this program, and it's so meaningful to me to do work in the community as part of my sweat equity. Each hour we contribute helps make a difference."

Erneita D.

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

Learn More
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 about owning my own home is the independence and the accomplishment I will feel when I walk through those doors.”

Learn More
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 after 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 out of 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 about 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, and so many other chapters of your life are opened up because of that.”

Learn More
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. Together we are building a better home for my family, and they are helping dreams come true.”

Learn More
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."

Learn More
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."

Learn More
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 how tough it can be to raise a family here, but know it is absolutely worth it."

Learn More
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.”

Help us continue to transform lives and communities across New York City!