“Lord have mercy, before I got into this program, I didn’t even know how to save a quarter,” Habitat homebuyer and retail worker Kellee Taylor said. “They showed me how to do everything. Every time I get paid, I put money to the side, and I don’t touch that because I know what it’s for. I still want to go shopping, but I want this for my house.”
Cold statistics about rising rents and stagnant incomes do not do justice to the impact of cost-burdened housing. When a family struggles to make rent, necessities like groceries and electricity are sacrificed, especially if the family is a single parent taking care of three kids. When you read about cost-burdened housing, what you’re reading about is families making impossible choices just to get by.
Because of this, in 2015, New Orleans Habitat started building rental doubles as part of a program to help families and individuals stabilize their finances before moving on to homeownership. Since then, many families, including Kellee, have successfully become homeowners after rebuilding their lives.
For Kellee, learning to be more responsible helped her get off Section 8 assistance. “I wasn’t paying my bills on time before the program, so I was worried I wasn’t going to make it through the process,” she said. “It feels very rewarding to succeed.”
With the incubator program, the affiliate is able to provide a hand up to those who need support before they become homeowners. Kellee attests: “I want everyone to know that you can do anything you put your mind to. Moving forward was scary at first. People don’t want you to succeed in life. The people at Habitat are here to help you and make it not so hard.”