When Ashley first applied for Habitat’s homeownership program, she and her children, LonDeon & Cherish, were living in a cramped, two-bedroom duplex where the landlord was painstakingly slow in making much-needed repairs. In fact, Ashley and her boyfriend, Deon, had to tackle projects like painting, pressure-washing and removing a fallen tree themselves. “It was bad,” she said. “It was just time for me to do something better.”
Ashley and her children have since moved from this place. And after renting all of her life, she’s truly grateful for the opportunity to become a proud homeowner.
“This is one of the best things to ever happen to me in my life! This, and my kids,” she said. “I’m just happy. The kids are happy, We’re all happy!”
Ashley and Deon have been a couple since their early teens. She said Deon’s been a huge support during her Habitat experience – often helping her earn her required 350 “sweat equity” hours. “He wouldn’t let me give up, she said.
Giving up is something that Ashley contemplated along her journey toward homeownership. At one point, she was faced with some old financial obligations that seemed like they would derail her chances of buying her first home. But, she persevered, worked with Habitat’s mortgage administrator and was able to face those challenges head on. “If it hadn’t been for Habitat, she wouldn’t have gotten it situated so fast,” Deon chimed in.
Ashley added that she’s learned a lot of valuable lessons through Habitat’s homeowner education curriculum. Twenty different classes are taught by volunteers on topics like budgeting, maintaining a clean/healthy house, understanding credit reports and estate planning. “I didn’t start out knowing a lot about becoming a homeowner,” Ashley confessed. “So, I looked forward to coming to the classes to learn (how to care) for our home. I especially liked learning how to make cleaning products that are safe for kids. ”
Ashley even overcame her fear of ladders while helping to paint another Partner Family’s house. “I went all the way up there!” she said. Ashley’s expected to move into her Habitat home this summer. Her house is considered a “Women Build” project because it is being largely funded and constructed by women. “When I first applied, I didn’t think I was going to be approved. I had already tried Section 8 and was denied twice,” Ashley said. But with lots of encouragement and a fighting spirit, she never gave up. “Habitat showed us there are still good people in the world,” Deon said, with Ashley nodding in agreement. The two are also planning their wedding, which they hope will happen in 2018. “Right now, I’m just looking forward to having more space and being able to sit on my front porch without being scared and jumpy. Just being able to sit on my front porch and watch the kids play.” What a wonderful blessing!
2017 Women Build House
Funding provided by:
Better Homes and Gardens Realty Signature Brokers
City of Chattanooga
Department of Economic and Community Development
Andy Berke. Mayor
Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga
Additional funding, support, Services or Materials provided by:
Chattanooga Area Volunteers
Daughters of the American Revolution, Chief John Ross Chapter
The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Chattanooga Chapter
The HART Gallery
State Farm Insurance -Hamilton Co. Agents
St. Francis of Assisi Episcopal Church
Two Men and a Truck