She smiled and told them about the home her family received through Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland.
“Our Habitat home is the best thing that ever happened to my family. We used to be homeless. When we were homeless we didn’t feel safe. We were afraid of the other people,” Destiny said. “... After we left the shelter, we moved into a little trailer.”
The family’s new home ended up having rats, snakes and mold. Destiny informed the Kiwanis members it was “hard,” but all the small family of three could afford. The family’s monthly income was little more than $500.
“We finally found something better that we could afford. It was a very small, but very clean one-bedroom apartment,” Destiny said. “We lived there for nine months until we drove past a three-bedroom small house.”
The family of three felt they could afford the upgrade. Destiny explained her mother’s disability check ensured there would be enough money for $720 rent.
Added Destiny, “We were wrong and sadly miscalculated.”
It turned out the house needed a lot of repairs. The family’s savings were soon burned through as Destiny’s mother attempted to get rid of the mold found around the doors, windows and under the house. Destiny and her family soon had to move out.
“One day, I was at my friend’s birthday party. My mom was talking to my friend’s mom and she complimented her on her lovely home,” Destiny said. “[My friend’s mom] went on and told Mom it was a Habitat home and told her it would be a great program for my mom to apply for.”
Destiny, her mother and her brother all agreed it sounded like a great idea.
“Once it was done, I just couldn’t wait to move our stuff in. So we started moving one small load after one small load,” she said. “We slept our first night there Dec. 21, 2012. We kept waking up. It felt so weird and different, but it was also good.”
The 11-year-old ended her presentation by assuring the Kiwanis members, “It is nice to have a [place] that we can proudly call home.”
Family Services director NaCole Massingale and Volunteer Development VISTA Katie Rinaudo also presented at the recent Kiwanis luncheon.
Massingale said the local nonprofit operates on a Need-Partner-Pay method.
- Families fill out both a preapplication and a long-detailed application to make their case. Each family must have a need whether it is high rent, dangerous living conditions, infestation or overcrowding. A Family Selection Committee visits the applicant’s current home prior to a recommendation to the board of directors.
- Approved families must complete 300 to 400 sweat equity hours. Families gain these hours through helping in construction of their home, working at either ReStore location, offering help in the Habitat offices and attending classes. The classes cover such topics as budgeting, home repair and good neighbor relationships.
- Massingale informed the Kiwanis Club the houses are not given away for free. Families make a downpayment on the home as soon as it is completed. A zero-percent interest mortgage is then paid each month. All the money paid on the Habitat homes goes toward the construction of new ones.
Rinaudo urged anyone interested in volunteering to contact the local nonprofit.
For more information visit www.habitatofcleveland.org.