“Habitat is the only way I can buy my own home. When I came to the United States, I had to start over. I had a suitcase with clothes in it; I knew I had to find a job, and I had to learn English.”

When Miguel attended his first homeowner information meeting five years ago, he was still at the beginning of his journey. He came to the United States seeking asylum from the regional instability and political unrest plaguing his home country – he never expected he would settle down in Bloomington.

“I think God brought me here for a good reason. The good people that I’ve met in Bloomington….it feels like a movie. Bloomington is my safe place; my new home,” Miguel explained. “I learned about the Habitat program from a friend who had gone through the program himself. At the time, I didn’t have a stable job, and I couldn’t meet the requirements.”

Over the last five years, Miguel has worked hard to bring stability to his life. He works as an operator at Cook Medical, completed the English as a Second Language course at Broadview Learning Center, and will soon achieve his dream of homeownership.

“I look forward to having a fixed mortgage payment to make. My rent always goes up, but this will be different. It will be a place I can really call “home.” Miguel explained. “It will make me feel safe and stable.

“I am ready to settle down and, God willing, start a family. If given the chance, I would love to ask my parents if they want to come to live with me, too. I will have my own place, and I would love to give them their own safe place to live. They still live in my home country, and I worry for them. I used to tell my mom ‘I will buy you a house in the future’ and I feel like I’m finally doing that; fulfilling my promise from 35 years ago,” Miguel said with a smile.

Miguel officially joined the Habitat program in the summer of 2021, and immediately began earning his sweat equity hours. All adults in a Habitat household must earn at least 100 hours on the construction site, and 250 hours total before they close on their home. As of January 2023, Miguel had earned over 400 hours, while continuing to work on his home and those under construction in Osage Place.

“I could work overtime on the weekends, but I would rather come out to Habitat and help the other families I have met. The [Latinx] families want to help, but the crew leaders don’t all know Spanish. I have learned enough that the crew leaders trust me to lead other future homeowners on tasks, and I can help translate when I’m there,” Miguel said.

“Everyone at Habitat and the ReStore is great. They are all motivated by something special. And the other crew leaders…they’re like me. They want to help people. They get tired, but they don’t care. They keep coming. You can breathe in the air that the people [on site] want to do something good for someone else. It is very reassuring and motivating for me.”

Sometimes, a Habitat family’s circumstances change, and Habitat has the chance to buy back a home previously purchased through the homeowner program. This opportunity allows Habitat to serve another family more quickly and at a fraction of the cost of new construction. After some repairs and renovations sponsored by the Habitat ReStore, Miguel will soon purchase and move in to his “recycled” Habitat home.