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Small signs of hope mean much to homeowner


Homeowner Demitres May with her near complete Habitat house in New Orleans.

As she works on her Habitat house on Mandeville Street in New Orleans, Demitres May says that some of the most hopeful signs to her are businesses reopening around the city.

“Some of the small businesses are starting to come back. It gives you some kind of normalcy,” she says. “My favorite Chinese restaurant is reopening, I just saw! It makes me so excited!”

May evacuated to Texas with her 11-year-old son Lamont ahead of Hurricane Katrina. They remained in a shelter there until the city reopened to residents. They were “lucky,” May says: Their house “only had roof damage.” They are living in their damaged house until their Habitat home is completed.

“Things have gone well” on the building of her house, May says. “It was a little slow at first, getting materials,” she says. “There’s so much construction going on, so much need.”

Working with volunteers and other homeowners has been very rewarding for May. “I’m so glad Habitat thought to let homeowners come do the work!” she says.

“I think everyone who can should volunteer with Habitat,” May continues. “There’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. A lot of people want to come home, and they can’t. Housing is a big issue for New Orleans now.”

Despite the obstacles ahead for her city, May is hopeful, and she and Lamont are looking forward to moving into their new house and putting in place some of the small things that will make it a home. “He is excited,” May says of her son. “He’s picked out his room. Also, we lost our puppies in Katrina—we couldn’t take them with us. So I’ve promised him, when we get settled, we’ll get two new puppies and a basketball goal.”