New homeowners Abdi (left), Hodan (middle), and Justine (right) outside their new homes in Mission Hill on the day of Justine’s closing in August.
The day Justine thought would never come arrived on a picture-perfect late summer Thursday.
Standing in the sunlit living room of her new Habitat Greater Boston home with her mother and two young daughters, she held back tears of joy.
“I still can’t believe it. I came to this country with nothing – five dollars in my pocket,” said Justine, who moved to Boston from Uganda. “Now I own a home!”
Justine and her neighbors, Abdi and Hodan, partnered with Habitat for Humanity Greater Boston to build their two-family home in Boston’s Mission Hill neighborhood in 2020. They hung in through multiple delays caused by COVID-19 and supply chain disruptions, never giving up hope.
Like all Habitat Greater Boston partner families, Justine and Abdi put in hundreds of hours working with staff and volunteers, helping to build their homes from the ground up. They hammered nails, raised walls, laid floorboards, and became friends.
As Justine savored the moment in the living room, her daughters thumped up the stairs in search of their new bedrooms.
“Mommy, there’s a lot of rooms!” her oldest called down.
Soon, there was a knock at the door. Abdi and Hodan, who moved in a few days earlier, stopped by to officially welcome their new neighbors. They traded multiple rounds of hugs and congratulations.
“A home is the most valuable thing for my family. It means a roof over our heads,” said Abdi, a father of four. “Now we don’t have to worry about the rent going up next year. It’s a stable and steady life.”
Partnering with Habitat Greater Boston made it possible for Abdi and Hodan to stay in their current neighborhood – the apartment they lived in before is walking distance away.
For Justine, moving into the new space was something of a homecoming. The family had lived nearby in Jamaica Plain, but rising rents forced them to move outside the city. Moving back means the family will be close to the girls’ school and Justine’s job at a nearby hospital.
“This is the best part of our jobs,” Habitat Greater Boston President & CEO Jim Kostaras told the new homeowners during a break between hugs. “You’ve worked so hard for this.
Abdi and Hodan were already thinking ahead to their kids playing in the yard after school and having friends over for a traditional Somali feast.
For Justine, the culmination of her long journey to becoming a homeowner was still sinking in.
“This means everything to me and my family. I can’t believe I’m bringing my girls home,” she said. “I will never forget this opportunity. I feel so happy.”