Every day, Monica goes out of her way to drive past the same empty lot on her way home from work. Even when she’s tired from a long shift at the restaurant, and even though it doesn’t look like much right now, she always passes by. That’s because this lot represents her family’s future.
Monica has dreamed of homeownership for years.
Like any mom, like you, she wants the best for her kids. She wants them to be healthy, happy, and safe. She wants a bright future. After a string of shootings close to her apartment — including one that sent bullets into her home and right over her son’s bed — she decided she couldn’t wait any longer. She contacted New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity and applied to the First Time Homebuyers Program. Now that she has chosen her lot, she’s counting down the days until construction begins. Her new home won’t be far from where she currently lives, but the two areas couldn’t be more different. She explains,
“There’s a park down the street. I actually feel comfortable letting my kids go to the park, letting them play outside, maybe walk down the block, where in my neighborhood I can’t let them. Come home from school, they’re inside, caged up. And then even inside, it’s not safe.”
Her eleven-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter are counting down the days, too. They can’t wait to have their own bedrooms and backyard.
An all too familiar story
Monica’s story is a familiar one for all of us here at New Orleans Habitat. In a city where women earn $0.79 for every $1 earned by men, single motherhood and poverty too often go hand in hand. Of the 550 families we’ve partnered with since 1983, 70% have been led by single women. That’s nearly 400 women determined to rewrite the narrative for the next generation. They realize what study after study has shown: safe, stable, affordable housing is the best recipe for improvements in mental and physical health, educational attainment, and career advancement. Getting to know these amazing women, walking this path with them, may be one of the most exciting parts of our work.
How You Can Help
Here’s something even more exciting: You can join Monica on her path to homeownership. This spring, from May 11th to June 3rd, 400 New Orleans women will work alongside Monica to build her home from start to finish. An all-female construction staff leading all-female volunteers to turn a mother’s dream of homeownership into reality? This is going to be awesome. Visit us online HERE to learn more and choose, donate, and your volunteer date!
About Amy Arthur
Amy Arthur is a native Louisianan and the mom of an elderly Scottish terrier named Tobi. She writes grants and performs other tasks for New Orleans Area Habitat for Humanity. Amy holds an MFA in poetry from Johns Hopkins University. Her poetry and prose has appeared in Blackbird, The Hopkins Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Measure, Unsplendid, and elsewhere.