Susana Figueroa works on hammering a board into place while helping with the construction of her home last month in Evans. Figueroa, a single mother of five, is receiving help from Habitat for Humanity. (Photo by Joshua Polsonfirstname.lastname@example.org)
There isn’t room for much else.
Three of her daughters, Dalia, Yanise and Kamyla, aged 11, 9 and 5, share the bed with her.
Figueroa, 39, and her five children share a two-bedroom apartment in Greeley. They are grateful for it. Rents are high. This is their fourth move in the past few years. But it’s cramped. David, the only boy in the house, is 17 and sleeps on the couch. Natalie, 18, is the only one lucky enough to have her own room.
And yet, that should change in a few weeks. Figueroa‘s new home, built by Habitat for Humanity (with her significant help), should be ready by the end of July. The home means security, of course, because they shouldn’t have to move any longer. It will also mean pride and ownership. But most of all, it means space.
Habitat for Humanity was her only hope of obtaining a home, Figueroa said, and she was willing to sacrifice a lot for that. She even quit her temporary job at Otterbox and went back to the JBS meatpacking plant, despite the long hours and grueling and emotional work six days a week, because one of the requirements of Habitat is a full-time job.
Habitat requires payments on the mortgage and 500 hours of work, what the nonprofit calls “sweat equity,” but it supplies volunteers to build the home and doesn’t require a huge down payment, an obstacle that most renters can’t overcome.
Habitat has 200 families on its list and 30 who have already qualified, but Figueroa rose to the top two years ago because the organization prefers to pick clients facing the toughest situations. There will eventually be about 15 Habitat homes in the 1300 block of 29th Street Road, and another subdivision will begin building soon.
This is a special build because it’s a Women Build, the second one for Greeley’s Habitat chapter in a decade, said Cheri Witt-Brown, executive director. The builds feature mostly women who donate $100 and work a full day. Many times employers will use the days as team-building exercises. A-Frame Mortgage of Greeley paid eight employees to be out there last week for a day.
Witt-Brown laughs when she remembers telling David about the house. She shared with the family that it would be a Women Build, and David’s eyes grew into small moons. David is surrounded by women all the time. More women? No.
Having a little space to himself is motivation enough to be out there in the hot sun, working as much as he can, though.
“It will be nice not to have to move anymore,” David said as he hammered nails. “But yeah, it will be so nice to have my own bedroom. No one will steal my blankets anymore.”
Figueroa doesn’t complain about sharing a bed with three daughters. She slept in her parents’ bed growing up in Mexico before her father brought her to the U.S. 24 years ago when she was 15. But the thought of a bedroom for each child, save for the two youngest, makes her gush with gratitude.
— Dan England is the Features Editor for The Tribune. His column runs Tuesdays. If you have an idea for a column, call (970) 392-4418 or e-mail email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @ DanEngland.