Before partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, Kerlyn, Jose, and their children were living in a small, one-bed, two-bath duplex in Bonita Springs. Due to rising costs in rent, the family had moved from three different homes before settling in their duplex.. Once they’d settled, Kerlyn told Jose that she wouldn’t be moving again until they had their own house.
“The words you speak are so powerful,” Kerlyn says, because somehow, saying those words out loud seemed to work.
As a Habitat homeowner herself, Kerlyn’s mother encouraged the couple to reach out to us, and after a little resistance, eventually they did. One year later, Kerlyn, Jose and their children were moving for the last time.
Before purchasing their Habitat home, Kerlyn and Jose had to complete 300 hours of sweat equity with help from volunteers, family, and friends. They also had to save and pay a portion of the closing costs in addition to attending several hours of homeownership education classes.
“I laid these tiles and I’m proud of that,” Kerlyn says. She helped other Habitat homeowners build their homes too. The experience was life-changing for both Kerlyn and Jose and being involved with the development of her neighborhood inspired Kerlyn to take a leading role in her community as the president of the Homeowner’s Association. “I like knowing that my kids can play outside safely because we live in a good community,” she says.
Kerlyn’s neighborhood, which was completed in 2019, is one of several Habitat neighborhoods in Bonita Springs. Recently, we closed on five homes off Alabama Street, and we’ve been working to develop two additional neighborhoods to serve the need for affordable housing in Bonita Springs. Our goal is to begin building homes in our new neighborhood, Partnership Place, Winter of 2021, and our neighborhood off of Carolina Street by Fall of 2022.
Bonita Springs continues to be an area where the need for affordable housing remains great. As long as that need exists and we have access to land in the area, we will continue to build affordable homes in partnership with low-income Bonita Springs families in need of safe and decent shelter.
Everyone can help build affordable homes in Bonita Springs, and every donation makes a difference in the lives of families like Jose and Kerlyn.
Pictured above: Kerlyn and Jose sit with their Chidlren, Daniel, Jocelyn, Alina, Aiden and David on their living room sofa in the Habitat home where they’ve lived for the last 4 years. See the full story written by Thaddeus Mast in The Banner online.