Norma Gales family -- Habitat for Humanity Int'l 1

Norma Gales family


For five years, Norma Gales has rented an aging apartment on K Street through the D.C. Housing Authority, and her fluctuating rent has made it hard to make ends meet. But now she is working to get a new Habitat for Humanity home in Ivy City.

©Habitat for Humanity International/Ezra Millstein


‘This house is going to mean a new start’

Norma Gales, 46, has been a preschool teacher in Washington, D.C., for eight years, overseeing a classroom full of 16 children between the ages of 3 and 5.

“It’s a challenging age,” she said, smiling.

For five years, Gales has rented an aging apartment on K Street through the D.C. Housing Authority. Her rent has fluctuated between $295 and $746, making it nearly impossible to budget her money wisely and make ends meet.

“I’m living paycheck to paycheck,” she said. “It’s hard to keep up.”

In October, construction begins on her new Habitat home in Ivy City, part of the 2010 Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Once the home is completed, Gales will be paying a stable mortgage that she can afford.

She will share the three-bedroom house with her 13-year-old daughter, Tiara. Her 19-year-old son, Davon, who just started college in West Virginia, will be home for holidays and summer vacations. Her eldest son, Lorenzo, 24, lives on his own.

“This house is going to mean a new start, where we can grow better together,” Gales said. “My kids know how hard I’ve strived to get where I am today.”

Gales is going to try to line up a substitute teacher for the whole week of the Carter Work Project, so she can be in Ivy City for all the excitement as new homes start rising in the historic neighborhood.

“I want to be right there on that site,” she said. “I want to help build my own house.”