1998: ‘Change for the better’ in Houston 


Just a couple of years after the excitement of building her home during the Carter Work Project, Betty Polk was hit with a hardship that made her appreciate the home even more. Her 15-year-old son Jason was diagnosed with cancer and required a lung transplant.

Not having to worry about having an affordable place to live made it a little easier on both of them. Now, Jason is out on his own, as is Polk’s daughter Trena.

“Each time they left, I tore a room up,” she laughs. If they need her, she is quick to add, her kids are always welcome to come back. They might just have a slightly harder time finding a place to sleep now, since two of the four bedrooms have been repurposed. “One bedroom, I opened up to connect to the kitchen and it’s a dining room. The other one is actually a little computer room,” says Polk.

The 1998 Carter Work Project built 100 homes in Houston. Many of them — including Polk’s — were infill houses in existing neighborhoods. Over the years, her neighborhood has “changed for the better,” Polk says.

“Habitat does a lot of good for people who want to be homeowners,” she says, “but maybe don’t have the finances or have some issues with going through all the red tape and never actually get an opportunity to own something for their families. It’s been a really good thing for me.”