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impact stories

Stories of changed lives in New Castle County.


Marlise's story

Marlise has lived in subsidized housing for nearly a decade; and, while she’s grateful for the programs that have allowed her to afford housing for her three children, there are things about living in subsidized housing that are difficult.

Marlise’s landlord can enter her apartment at any time – without notice. “It feels like a violation sometimes to go home and see – visibly – that somebody has been in your house,” she said.

As her children get older, space continues to be a challenge – in the small apartment. “My five-year-old, she’s getting bigger now – and she needs her own space. It’s like every room is her room – she has stuff in the living room in my room, in my son’s room. So it’s just like, okay, what are we going to do?”

After looking into a traditional mortgage and learning she that wouldn’t be able to qualify for a home that met her family’s needs, Marlise learned about Habitat. Marlise applied to the Habitat program a few times before being accepted – and her perseverance and determination became part of her personal growth.

“I’m grateful that there were standards because it wasn’t

just a requirement to get in, but it helped me be a better me.

It educated me about my finances about just everything.”

In December of 2019, Habitat broke ground on the Amala Way project – a 12-unit project on the Eastside of Wilmington – where Marlise’s future home is being built.  

“After walking around and being able to see visually what we’ll have for us – I keep thinking about what my kids are going to think – and I think that’s what makes me cry,” Marlise said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“My kids are going to grow up one day – they’re probably not going to live there forever – they’ll go on to do other things. Maybe they’ll travel the world, but they’ll have a home to come back to. I keep that at the forefront of my mind – like I have to do this for them. Because if, for whatever reason, they don’t have the opportunity to do this – they’ll have this.”

Hope during the pandemic

Vanessa & Jose's story

When they began the Habitat program, Vanessa, Jose, and their three daughters lived in a small house – one that had reoccurring issues with heating in the winter, and pests throughout the year.

“The house was cold in the winter – and we were always calling for maintenance [because] the heater didn’t work properly.”

Vanessa and Jose shared three small bedrooms and one bathroom with their three daughters – which was often difficult. They were referred to Habitat’s homeownership program by their financial coach, when they were unable to qualify for a house that would meet their growing family’s needs due to their income.

“I attended one of the Habitat meetings and I saw that, in the process of participating with Habitat, we would have the opportunity to learn how to take care of the house and do minor repairs ourselves, [while] also having an affordable mortgage payment, and a clean, safe house where our daughters will have enough room to grow.”

Vanessa, Jose, and their daughters celebrated the dedication of their Habitat home on July 14, 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic, which shed an even greater light on the need for everyone to have a safe and healthy home.

At their home’s dedication, Vanessa shared, through tears, how blessed she and her family felt to have this opportunity – and how much it meant to, finally, after a long journey, have a place for her family to call home.


Ashley's story

During her five years in the Habitat program, patiently and excitedly awaiting the completion of her new home in Middletown, Ashley and her children have lived with her parents in a two-bedroom apartment, where they shared one bedroom.

On August 7, 2020, at the dedication celebration for her new Habitat home, Ashley’s excitement for moving into her new home was palpable.

 “I want to be able to give my kids something I never had – a home to grow up in and not struggle to maintain my home and to provide for my family.”

Ashley’s perseverance and dedication through the Habitat program are two values that inspired Habitat staff and volunteers alike.

Noreen Poole, Vice President of Habitat’s Board of Directors, said of Ashley’s steadfastness, “through all of the trials and tribulations in life, this just goes to show you that, if you hang in there, God will make a way.”

During her time in the Habitat program, Ashley also worked her way through nursing school; and, shortly before the dedication of her Habitat home, she celebrated her graduation as a Licensed Practical Nurse.

For Ashley, homeownership has always been a dream – one she has longed for since childhood. “I knew Habitat was the way to give my family a better life,” she said.

“Everything is coming together,” Ashley said, “and now – I can give my kids something I never had.”

Before Somandra found Habitat, she had been washing dishes in her bathtub for an entire year

Somandra's story

“My story begins with my trust being taken advantage of by someone who did not complete the repairs I paid for. Hurt and heartbroken do not describe how I felt. I lived without a kitchen for a year.  Cooking with no sink in a kitchen that [was torn] up. It was the worst year of my life.

…I felt as if my dream of staying in my home had turned into a nightmare. But, this changed when I met Ruby and Kevin from Habitat. They listened to my story and provided information on their A Brush With Kindness initiative, which I qualified for. Ruby and her team treated me and my home with respect.

After an assessment, they made necessary repairs to my roof and HVAC system. They also replaced my front windows and door, and installed a new storm door. I received a design package, which included an address plaque, mailbox and light fixture. I am now so proud of my home. God Bless ABWK they have renewed my faith in humanity!”

(left: Somandra in her new, functioning kitchen with the Habitat volunteers who repaired it)


Habitat NCC's 250th Homeowner!

Tiffany's story

Two years ago, Tiffany and her three children were living in overcrowded conditions in her mother’s home. Not long after her mother passed away, Tiffany arrived home to find a for sale sign was on the door—the house was in foreclosure. A parent at the daycare where Tiffany worked told her about Habitat. After completing her financial coaching and 225 hours of “sweat equity” with Habitat, Tiffany became the 250th Habitat Homeowner in New Castle County “Habitat’s 0% interest mortgage made homeownership a reality for me. I am beyond blessed.”

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