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4 min read

I'm going to do this one day: Arlisa's Homeowner Story

I'm going to do this one day: Arlisa's Homeowner Story

Arlisa Bullock grew up in North Minneapolis and was an expert in backroads from the city all the way up to Coon Rapids and Anoka. She knew about Twin Cities Habitat from advertising on KMOJ Radio, and she saw houses in the metro being built from the ground up with the Habitat sign out front. As a single mother of three kids, she knew she needed a home. She often thought, “I’m going to do this one day.” And one day, after years of hard work and sacrifice, she did.

Arlisa and her three kids holding mugs and laughing.Arlisa and her three children in one of their favorite spots in the house -
the kitchen!

Sticking to a Budget

Arlisa learned a strong work ethic from her parents. “If I want it, I’m going to get it,” she says. “My dad spoiled me, and when I stopped getting what I wanted when I was about 8 years old, I learned if you want something, you’re going to have to figure out how to get it.”

She looked up articles on “how to save $1,000 in a year” and stuck the tips on her wall with post-it notes to always remind her of her goal. She quit smoking, did her own cooking, picked up extra shifts at the pharmacy where she works, and designated every extra dollar to something. She knew if she had a structure and rules to follow, she could stick to it.

“You gotta learn how to cut things out. I can go have fun, but I don’t overdo it. When you are ready to, you can do it, too!”

Arlisa completed the Home Stretch Program with PRG and achieved her homebuyer certificate in 2018. All the while, she continued to follow her budget and improve her credit. At one point, Arlisa saved $10,000 in one year! “You can always take inspiration from somewhere,” she shares. “You can’t go up if you’re always looking down.”

House Hunting

Arlisa applied to Twin Cities Habitat in mid-2022 and locked in a lower interest rate with our TruePath mortgage. She was ready to buy but not ready to compromise. She wanted to stay in the northern suburbs and most importantly, she wanted to find something that “felt like me.” Her Realtor Nene Matey-Keke  showed her more than 40 homes in 2022 alone, but sellers weren’t willing to budge an inch. Arlisa’s struggle was featured in the 2022 Star Tribune article Twin Cities housing market slows even more, and buyers gained a slight edge last month. “It felt like forever, two years of looking and looking on websites. I was about to start looking for an apartment,” she says.

Arlisa standing in front of her home and smiling.

When Arlisa pulled up to view her now-home in Brooklyn Center, she was already so excited about being close to North Minneapolis just like she hoped. She was amazed as she walked through the front door and took in the beautiful hardwood floors and the bright open kitchen and island. “I walked in and was like ‘There’s wood floors – no carpet!’” She loved that all the bedrooms were on the same floor, and the house had high ceilings, a large back yard, and a basement with extra rooms. For the first time, she and her two youngest kids would each have their own room and space.

Finally Home

Arlisa closed on her home on June 30, 2023, but kept it a secret from her three kids – she wanted to surprise them. A few days after closing, she brought her kids to the house under the guise of just wanting their opinion on a house she had recently seen. Her oldest daughter Promise looked around and liked what she saw. Then Arlisa held up the keys and said, “It’s ours!” and they all squealed and celebrated with a few moments of pure joy. 

Arlisa with family photos behind her.
From the time he was a kid, Arlisa's father always had a camera around his neck, and Arlisa shares his love of photography. She now has a place to display the photos that mean so much to her. “Home is family, it’s love, it’s where you can grow,” Arlisa says. “I wish my mom and dad were able to see me, but they’re with me,” she says glancing over to a fireplace mantel filled with family photos of all shapes, sizes, and generations. Arlisa's mother passed away just before the pandemic in 2020, and her father passed away from cancer only weeks before she closed on her home in 2023. One of the last things she said to him was "I'm going to get that house."

Arlisa’s young kids love having their own rooms. Laylah Joy decorated her walls with stickers and pink and purple art. She loves to draw and has two large canvas cases of pens and markers. She also loves her alone time. Hand-written signs taped to her door declare this “Laylah’s room” and include rules to follow. (“If you knock and I don’t answer, do not enter!”)

Little Prince enjoys running around his room and playing with his toys, and he sometimes joins Arlisa in another favorite part of the house – her bed. “It has a real bed frame and everything,” Arlisa says, beaming with pride. She never had her own space growing up, so having a luxurious bed all to herself is a dream come true.

Future Plans

As a new Habitat homeowner, Arlisa has many dreams for her back yard. This spring, she’ll lay down a rock path leading from her front yard to the back yard; she’s already marked off the lines. The back yard is big enough to envision a swing set or even a pool. (Arlisa jokes that “for sure a hot tub is coming.”) She can also picture a greenhouse and a fish pond.

“I got goals out here,” she laughs. “I’m living the dream. I love creative spaces, and it’s mine and I can do what I want with it.”

Never taking her eyes of the prize, Arlisa gave herself and her family the best gift of all: the safety and security that homeownership brings. When asked what advice she has for others who dream of homeownership, Arlisa offers a gold nugget of wisdom: “You need a goal, something that you’re working for. And not just your kids, you have to be doing something for yourself.”

Arlisa and her kids posing outside their home.

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