We continue to process the pain and hope of our nation’s uprising for racial justice amid a global health crisis. You can see our recent statements on the uprising here, our COVID-19 web page here, and our Race & Housing resource center here. Expanding homeownership is a key component of racial equity and health, so our mission has never been more important—and we’ll continue to share the stories of Habitat’s work.
We recently held a Photo Contest where we asked Twin Cities Habitat homeowners to submit a photo and caption that answered the question: "How has your home impacted your education?"
Mikayla, the daughter of Habitat homeowner Jill, submitted this photo with this caption:
“We moved into our Habitat home before I was two years old. Growing up I was an avid reader and very dedicated to school. It was in this room that I studied for my high school finals, college finals, and now I spend my time preparing to get into grad school in economic development and policy analysis.
For over two decades I have been reading in this room, and it is my favorite place to find peace and focus.
Thank you for this opportunity to share my experience with you, but thank you most of all for the home I have grown up in.”
Jill and her family have lived in their Habitat home for almost 24 years. It’s the only home Jill’s four daughters have ever known.
Before buying with Habitat, Jill and her then-husband were living in a small three-bedroom apartment in Columbia Heights. They were caretakers for the property in order to get reduced rent. Jill gave apartment tours and her husband was in charge of maintenance.
However, with three young girls and a baby, Jill couldn’t show apartments as regularly as the homeowner want her to. Her husband was also working another job to keep up with expenses. They knew they needed something better for their daughters.
Jill and her husband decided to buy a house of their own but when they started looking for homes, they were unable to find something that worked for them. All of the houses they qualified for were really rundown or located in unsafe neighborhoods.
That’s when they decided to apply for Habitat’s homeownership program. Jill had volunteered for Habitat when she was in college and thought they might qualify. After applying and finding out they were approved, the family was grateful to finally have a stable and affordable place to call home.
Jill and her family in front of their Habitat home
Once they finished their home equity hours and got the keys, her husband decided to bring some donuts, juice boxes, and sleeping bags to the new house. That night, he and the girls camped out in the living room. They were just so excited to get the house and couldn’t get there fast enough.
Over the years, there were a lot of plays put on in the living room. At one point, the girls had swings, a slide, and even a mini-trampoline set up for them.
Jill actually homeschooled the girls for kindergarten and first grade. She was glad to be able to create a safe learning environment for her daughters. All of her daughters have since pursued post-high school education. Mikayla is currently studying for graduate school.
Mikayla studying in her room
To this day, Jill is thankful to have bought with Habitat. She now not only donates to Habitat; she has her employer match her donation.
“I appreciate all the work that Habitat does, and I give when I can… I want to make sure that we’re still doing what we can to give back to others. I really love our house and what it’s become for us.”
For more stories from our Homeownership contest, check out Brittany's Story and Angel's Story.