Imagine living in an apartment, with paper-thin walls, no GFIs, a breaker box next to water and non-working smoke detectors in the two bedrooms. The bathroom was a former closet with holes so big you could see down into the cellar, which had water in it. The couple used lots of spray foam insulation to try to block drafts from the cellar, windows and holes in the walls and covered the opening to the second floor bedrooms in an attempt to keep the small living area warmer. Even though their apartment was very small, the furnace kicked on constantly due to the poor insulation, yet they were still cold.
That was the “home” for James, Katie and their three young daughters for 4 long years. Their oldest daughter has cerebral palsy and other physical disabilities and is in a wheelchair or a walker as well as on a feeding tube. The apartment had no ramp, so not only did they have to carry her inside, but also upstairs to bed. The apartment didn’t have much storage so they had to leave her wheelchair on the porch where it was damaged by weather.
Their Habitat-built home is one-story and there is enough space for their oldest daughter to easily get around with her walker and she doesn’t need to be carried upstairs to go to bed as she did in their apartment. The house is extremely energy efficient and Katie said “the heat doesn’t need to come on very often and we’re nice and warm! Our energy bills are much lower, even though the house is bigger than our apartment. And, we have a bathtub in our new home which makes it much easier to bathe all of our girls rather than the tiny shower in our apartment. The ramp to the house means that our oldest daughter is able to get in and out of the house on her own in her wheelchair.
The home is on a very quiet street and there is a yard where the girls can play. James said “The new wiring in the house and smoke detectors has greatly reduced my stress. I used to lie awake in our apartment worried that there would be a fire. Now I can rest easily.” He went on to say, “Owning a home is a wonderful opportunity for us and I’m looking forward to learning how to take care of our house, rather than waiting for a landlord who didn’t fix things. We also don’t have to worry that our apartment would be sold out from under us—this will be our forever home for Katie and me and our daughters.”
Katie added, “We want to help build homes for other families and to give back. We are hardworking and striving individuals and look forward to being part of a community. We are so thankful that there are kind-hearted people in this world who work to help others.”