Brenda Ferebee is coming home today. Raised in Brooklyn, for much of her childhood she lived in a mice- and roach-infested tenement on Hart Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant. She and her two sisters slept in one bed in the living room. When she applied for a Habitat home through her church, she didn't realize that the 12 new row houses would be built on the same lot where her family had struggled for so many years.
"This is full circle, the beginning of a new life," says Ferebee, who works as a records coordinator at Cooper Union College. Before moving into their new home, she and her children, 12-year-old daughter Deidra and 11-year-old son Christopher, lived in an overcrowded, two-bedroom apartment in which Deidra and Christopher shared a room. That was fine when they were younger, she says, but now that they are approaching adolescence, they need privacy and a quiet place to study.
"I believe having their own house, they'll improve academically," Ferebee says. "It's a place where we can pray and talk about everything. My son can't wait. Everything is 'My room this, my room that.' They want their own space."
When she first heard about the program, Ferebee says she was reluctant to apply and doubtful of her ability to qualify. "I screamed in the woman's ear," she said, when she got the call that she had been approved. "Since then, I've had a total grin on my face. It's uncontrollable. I can't believe it."
Ferebee is looking forward to giving her children a life that she couldn't even imagine as a child growing up on Hart Avenue.
"Now it's not just a house," she says. "It's a home."