Concrete is poured, walls are up, and Greg’s future home is taking shape in Habitat for Humanity’s Prospect Avenue neighborhood in the City of Fort Myers.
The former combat medic is the first veteran to have a home built as part of Habitat’s inaugural Veterans Build program. The initiative helps U.S. veterans achieve their dream of homeownership by providing decent housing, an affordable mortgage and the skills to succeed.
After serving our country, Greg was a busy father juggling family and work responsibilities while trying to save up for a home. “I’ve been in the work field since I left the military, but it’s still difficult raising a family and having to go to school and raising six kids at the same time, and working full-time. So you lose that dream,” he said. “All my children had to move away with their children because they can’t afford to live in Fort Myers, and they were born and raised here.”
Over the last seven years, he’s been renting and living with a roommate, which isn’t his ideal housing situation, so he explored a traditional mortgage.
“It was so difficult to get a home through the [Veteran Affairs] loan,” Greg admitted. “Habitat, they help you with different programs and your finances, and it was much easier to go through [their] process to find a home.”
Now his three-bedroom, two-bathroom home is closer to completion after valued volunteers, veterans, sponsors and Fort Myers Mayor Kevin Anderson helped to raise its walls.
“There’s no reason why our veterans should not have decent housing that’s affordable,” said Anderson, a veteran himself. “There are so many people who talk about affordable housing, but Habitat is actually out there doing it. They’re making affordable housing happen.”
Greg was determined to become a homeowner after learning about Habitat’s Affordable Homeownership Program. He’s completing 300 hours of sweat equity, more than 20 hours of homeownership and financial literacy classes and will pay $2,000 for the closing costs of his home.
“That’s a common misconception, people think that Habitat gives away the homes,” said Malaina Mote, Habitat’s Director of Donor Development. “We really help veterans by giving a hand up, not a handout.”
“Everybody deserves a place to stay,” added Greg. “They’re helping me pay myself. I’m not paying someone else’s mortgage. I’m paying for my future and my grandkids’ future.”
Habitat for Humanity would like to thank Beacon Point Associates and Shadow Wood Charitable Foundation for sponsoring the Veterans Build program.