Mulvihills family smiling in front of their new accessible Habitat home.

Celebrating a new start

The line of cars stretched for blocks. While most of Culver City, California, was staying home and socially distancing as a result of COVID-19, Habitat for Humanity Greater Los Angeles supporters still wanted to find a way to welcome their newest neighbors—even if that meant doing so from at least 6 feet away.

A parade of honking cars drove past Kaoru and her children as they waved from the front porch of the home they had helped build. Before COVID-19, Kaoru and her four sons — Ryan, Trenton, Mason and Kendall — had planned to celebrate moving into their new home with a backyard party for the donors and volunteers who had worked alongside them. Instead, they embraced this adapted celebration. “The community has supported us every step of the way,” says 21-year-old Mason. “They mean so much to us.”

The home — with wider hallways and accessible bathroom fixtures — will allow Kendall, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, to have more freedom of movement and to be more independent. The 18-year-old contributed sweat equity hours to the home’s construction — painting, sanding and picking up loose nails on the site with the help of a magnetic dragnet attached to the back of his wheelchair.

“It’s inspiring to know that I helped build our own home and an amazing opportunity to get to know the people who helped us,” he says. “I can’t put it into words how excited we are for this new house, and this new journey we’re on.”

Kendall paints the doorframe on his family’s new home.

Kaoru and Kendall doing sweat equity hours on their new home.

Kaoru and her sons pray during the dedication of their new home, which is followed by a ribbon cutting.

The family hangs a sign to decorate their yard in preparation for the parade.

Habitat LA staff, volunteers and supporters parade by Kaoru’s new home.

Supporters drive by, honking and cheering.

A man holds a sign from a car window welcoming the family.

A boy holds a sign of welcome for the new neighbors.

Kaoru and Kendall cheer in celebration that they’re finally in a safe, accessible home!

1 / 3

Kendall paints the doorframe on his family’s new home.

Kaoru and Kendall doing sweat equity hours on their new home.

Kaoru and her sons pray during the dedication of their new home, which is followed by a ribbon cutting.

The family hangs a sign to decorate their yard in preparation for the parade.

Habitat LA staff, volunteers and supporters parade by Kaoru’s new home.

Supporters drive by, honking and cheering.

A man holds a sign from a car window welcoming the family.

A boy holds a sign of welcome for the new neighbors.

Kaoru and Kendall cheer in celebration that they’re finally in a safe, accessible home!

Safer at home

Habitat homeowner Ingrid’s son struggled daily with asthma in the unhealthy conditions of her family’s rental. They were in the process of searching for a smaller but healthier apartment when Jean and Ingrid received a call from New York’s Habitat for Humanity of Rockland County.

Read more

Housing is the prescription we need

Megan Sandel, MD, MPH, associate professor of pediatrics at the Boston University School of Medicine and Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat, discuss how the coronavirus pandemic is exacerbating the housing crisis we were already facing.

Read more