Jolene & Cornelius

“Living in our new home will give us peace of mind. I can’t wait to live in this neighborhood. It’s a community. This whole experience has been special – working with our future neighbors, we have already built relationships.”

When Jolene and Cornelius Wright moved from California to Jolene’s hometown of Bloomington in 1989, they were looking for a more comfortable, affordable place to raise their family. The family of five found a comfortable rental, and later bought their first home. Jolene worked for Head Start and later the Monroe County Community School Corporation, and Cornelius worked for the Indiana University Alumni Association.

Fast forward to a few years ago, and things began to change for Jolene and Cornelius. “We split up for a while, and we sold our home. Big mistake. We got back together again, we both retired, and we were both renting,” Cornelius said. “We talked about finding another home to buy, but prices had gone up astronomically.”

Now semi-retired and working part-time at area nonprofits, the couple realized re-entering the housing market in one of the least affordable cities in Indiana was a significant barrier. They currently live in a trailer, but continue to face high electric bills and increasing lot rental prices. “It doesn’t feel ‘homey’ where we live. There isn’t a community here,” Jolene commented. “It has been a decent temporary fix, but we knew it was time for the next chapter.”

The two were out to dinner with a friend, who mentioned the Habitat for Humanity program. “We checked it out, and here we are eighteen months later. We didn’t have any qualms about the program once we knew we qualified. When you think about how much you typically need for a down payment, as opposed to putting in physical hours on your own home, we realized this was a unique opportunity for us.”

The two, now semi-retired, look forward to once again hosting their thirteen – soon to be fourteen – grandchildren and four adult children for holidays, parties, and other get togethers. “We are looking forward to having a family home. The trail and the park next door will be great for the kids. I can’t wait to sit outside on my front porch, and to enjoy our yard,” Jolene shared. “I love planting flowers and a garden. am just waiting to hear when I can start planting. I’ve talked with other families, and we’d love to set up a community garden of some kind.”

After eighteen months in the program, Jolene and Cornelius will be the seventh family to build in Habitat’s third neighborhood, Osage Place. “It is a wonderful opportunity. We’d heard about Habitat, but didn’t know about all the intricacies. For example, we thought it was only for first-time homebuyers. A lot of people think Habitat homes are free – but you have to be able to put in the time and be able to afford the loan. They will also fix your payment to be affordable You can’t be house poor with a wonderful model like Habitat.”

“We are ready to feel settled, and to not have to think about where we’ll go in the future. We have learned so much in our time with Habitat; the time has gone by so fast. It has been fun getting out of our comfort zone on the construction site, as well as growing through the classes we’ve attended. We’re just excited to build our home!”

Cornelius and Jolene’s home is generously sponsored by the Ann St. John Legacy Fund.