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.”