Army Veteran Grateful to Buy Habitat House That Will Bring Stability to Her Family
Sierra epitomizes hard work.
She joined the Army National Guard at age 20, a transformative opportunity that instilled discipline, time management and communication skills in her over the nine years she served. A pair of layoffs afterward led her to reassess her career path.
Today Sierra, who holds a bachelor’s in human services from Old Dominion University, is a case manager with the City of Hampton, helping those who need SNAP benefits and Medicaid.
Yet, “I really thought home ownership was not going to be in the cards for me.”
That changed when the single mother of two applied to Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg’s First-Time Homebuyer Program.
“When I found out I was approved, I was through the roof,” she said.
Sierra’s introduction to Habitat came through volunteerism, which “has never let me down,” she said. Prior to joining the Army, she attended North Carolina Central University. Part of her curriculum required her to volunteer. She chose to give those hours to Habitat for Humanity.
“I volunteered with Habitat in 2008 and helped build somebody else’s house,” she said.
Years later, seeking to volunteer again locally, she remembered that experience and looked for opportunities on the Habitat for Humanity Peninsula and Greater Williamsburg website. That’s where she learned about the Homebuyer Program. Her initial application was denied due to poor credit, but she spent the next two years improving it, leading to her application being approved.
Today Sierra volunteers as part of the 300 sweat equity hours needed to buy a Habitat house.
“Volunteering seems to make me happy,” Sierra said. “The people you help are so grateful. They appreciate you.”
Construction has already started for Sierra’s home, one of two side by side in Newport News that used 3D printing for the walls. The local Habitat affiliate completed the first 3D printed house in the nation last year in Williamsburg. This state-of-the-art technology reduces construction time and costs without sacrificing quality or efficiency.
“The walls are complete,” said Sierra, who anticipates moving in with her sons by the end of 2023.
Home ownership boils down to one word for her: stability. The apartment where she lives has income restrictions. Each salary increase threatens her ability to stay, yet she still doesn’t have enough to buy a house the traditional way.
“I don’t really make enough to support three people, afford $1,500 rent and be able to save,” she said. “Every year I’m scared they’ll put me out because I make too much money.”
Sierra will be able to afford the zero-interest mortgage for the Habitat home that will be paid back over 20 to 30 years. The funds cycle back into the community so more Habitat homes can be built.
Her boys already refer to their new house as their “forever home.”
Every year in their apartment they’ve watched their mother stress when they’ve asked, “Will we be able to stay here?” Now Sierra can reassure them, “We won’t have to worry about being reapproved every year.”
“This will be incredible for me and my kids. It brings stability. If something happens to me, they will have a place to stay. Having a place that is yours no matter what and knowing at the end of paying for it, it’s yours will be wonderful. Even if I stay in this apartment for the next 27 years, it’s never going to be mine. “This house will be mine. Ours.”