When Rachelle attended her first Habitat for Humanity Homeowner Information Meeting in December 2018, she understood her journey to homeownership would be full of challenges.
“At that time, my credit report revealed that I owed around $4,000 in collections, and I had $0 in savings. I began working with Igdalia Acevedo (Habitat’s Homeownership Advisor), doing one-on-one financial counseling, and we created a plan for homeownership.”
Even though Rachelle has a good job at the Florida Department of Agriculture, homeownership had remained out of reach for the single-mother of four children.
“When my husband and I divorced, I wanted to live in the Fort Myers/Lehigh Acres area because my work, church, and children’s schools are in Lee County—but my income was simply not enough to afford housing for a family of five.”
The high cost of housing in Lee County and limited supply of quality, affordable options forced Rachelle and her children to move further east. They settled in Port Labelle, and though their rental house was fine—the community was less than ideal for raising a family.
“The neighborhood was not good—we had bikes and other things stolen from our front porch, and the pizza guys wouldn’t deliver after dark because they’d been held up so many times.”
Further complicating matters, Rachelle’s financial and emotional stresses were exacerbated by the lengthy commute from Port Labelle to Fort Myers.
“Every day I drove over 100 miles, just going to work and the kid’s schools—living in Lee County would let us spend more family time together, and I would save significantly on fuel, tires, and maintenance costs.”
Rachelle knew that with a safe, decent, and affordable home in Lee County—she could provide her children with a stable environment, allowing them to thrive personally and academically. Motivated by the affordable homeownership opportunity with Habitat for Humanity, Rachelle began taking her finances seriously.
“My homeownership plan included paying off my collections, tracking my expenses, and putting aside money every month into a savings account.”
Using her tax return and the money she’d been saving, Rachelle was able to settle her debts and move forward in Habitat’s affordable homeownership program. Over several months, she completed her 300 sweat equity hours and attended the required educational courses—no small feat for a single mother working full-time!
Then on May 8th, 2020, Rachelle signed the closing documents to purchase her Habitat for Humanity home located in Lehigh Acres with an affordable mortgage. Now, Rachelle and her children are enjoying a safe, decent, and affordable house they call home.
If you or someone you know is in need of a safe, decent, and affordable home, please visit habitat4humanity.org/apply to learn more about our affordable homeownership program.