Stephen and Arlene moved to Boston from South Carolina in 2009 to pursue work and a better future. When they arrived, they worked three jobs between them and were still barely able to afford rent and utilities in a two-bedroom attic apartment where they lived with their three young daughters.

Their story is not uncommon for our partner families and thousands of others who are rent burdened and must move multiple times to escape high annual increases. A good friend encouraged the family to apply to Habitat Greater Boston’s homeownership program. They qualified, did their 300 hours of sweat equity, and learned about the responsibilities of homeownership and benefits of being homeowners in their required classes.

In 2015, they moved into their new house; seven years later, they continue to reap the rewards of owning their own home.

As we recognize Stephen’s and Arlene life-changing accomplishment, we also acknowledge all our partner families whose work and commitment to building better futures is a hallmark of our work.

“It was the best decision I made for my family,” Stephen said.

Because of Habitat’s homeownership program, Stephen and Arlene are able to own a home they can afford. Affordable mortgages aren’t the only benefits Habitat’s homeownership program provides. Homes are built with energy efficiency in mind – so that families can focus on saving and building wealth that can support future generations.

“Our light bill is zero because we have the solar panel on the roof,” Stephen said.

These savings provide the family with opportunities to spend more time together, to live healthier lives, and to plan for the future.

With a big smile Stephen added, “Having a home changed everything for us, and we feel very lucky.”