The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International | February/March 2001
A beachfront address typically conjures up images of living in paradise. But for Vernon and Harrine Ceno, living in a tent on the beach for three years with their six children was no dreamland. Instead, it was a nightmare that meant they had to haul water from and bathe at a nearby public park because they could not afford the high cost of housing. In time, they moved to transitional housing, then to a small house. In July 1999, they became Habitat homeowners. Now my kids have a home, says Vernon. They will always have a roof over their heads.
With the stability of a home of their own, the Cenos are now able to provide a home for their children and a grandson.
Luis and Juana Castaneda and their four children lived in Dana Strand, a public housing project in Los Angeles. Bullet holes marked the familys front door. Gang activity and drug use in the area were common; one daughter saw a man stabbed to death. Rats were a constant problem. It was time to be able to live peacefully as a family and not have to worry about whether or not my children would make it through the night, says Luis.
The Castaneda family built their house alongside Hollywood celebrities and volunteers during last Decembers Hollywood for Habitat for Humanity 20-house blitz.
Three years ago, Karen Williams took on the responsibility of raising her three grandchildrenAmanda, 9; Adam, 7; and Kelly, 4. Together, they share a two-bedroom mobile home. During the day, Williams uses Amanda and Adams bedroom for her home-based business. Kelly sleeps in Karens bedroom. The only bathroom doubles as a closet. In October 2000, Karen was awarded permanent custody of the children. The family anxiously awaits the completion of its new home.
Construction began on the Williams' house in February.
Major leaks have caused the ceiling and walls of two of the three bedrooms to crumble in Tracye Bryants house in Philadelphia. Holes in the kitchen ceiling allow water to run directly over electrical sockets. Bryant and her daughter, Elender, sleep in the only bedroom that is habitable and the niece who lives with them sleeps on a couch. North Central Philadelphia HFH selected Bryant as a family partner in July 2000, and soon she was earning her sweat equity. The [sweat equity] I do is worth it because I am learning to take care of my own home, she says. When I am in the other [Habitat] houses here that are almost finished, I imagine what it will be like to have my own home. I can hardly wait.
Tracye and her family hope to be in their new house by September.
St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada
The atmosphere of poverty in their low-income neighborhood prompted Scott and Francine Dunne to apply for a Habitat house. They wanted a better life for their family. Last June, they were chosen for a Habitat house. Scott says their self-esteem increased, and he advises other families to pursue their dreams of homeownership: Do not reject yourselves by not applying. Take the risk, and if it is meant to happen, it will.
The Dunne family looks forward to finishing their houseand getting a dogin September.
Reprinted from Habitat World Magazine, February/March 2001.
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©2001 Habitat for Humanity International
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