For most Bloomington families living from paycheck to paycheck, finding housing is a matter of careful budgeting and often accepting substandard conditions.
But for a family with six children, just finding a landlord who will rent to them at all can be demoralizing.
That’s the troubling story of the Justin and Heather Hoene family – and what brought them to Habitat for Humanity.
Good things come to those who wait. Better things come to those who are patient – and that has happened to the Hoene family. Justin and Heather have been in the Habitat program for two years, and are enthusiastic and eager to finally start building their new, affordable dream home from the ground up starting in mid-August.
Sons, Mayson (age 16) and Landon (age 15) and the newest addition, Korbyn (age 15 months), plus daughters, Jazmyn (age 14), Adarah and Rainah (twins, age 7), talk about having their own rooms and becoming part of a neighborhood community where they can feel safe and make future friends. Heather and Justin will finally be able to watch their kids and beloved family dog, Shadow, enjoy more space inside and out with the new house and a level, usable yard.
As Justin, who has worked 20 years for IU Dining Services, points out, “we presently pay about 45% of our monthly income for rent. Our monthly Habitat mortgage will drop that percentage significantly,” he said. Among the required Habitat classes, Money Management, taught by Rebecca Mankowski and Erica Riggs, stands out for Justin and Heather, along with help from their Habitat budget partner, Marci Becker. “They helped us see where our money was going – where we could better manage our spending. And Habitat is teaching us how to be wise homeowners and maintain our property, with classes like Outdoor Maintenance and Stress Management, and to be good neighbors,” adds Heather, who looks forward to finishing her nursing degree at Ivy Tech.
“We’re thrilled that we’ll soon be living our dream of home ownership through Habitat,” say Heather and Justin. “We’re so relieved that we won’t have to beg landlords to rent to us anymore. And having our money go to our own equity instead of to someone else is a dream come true. A home through Habitat is a hand up, not a hand out. That wouldn’t be possible for us any other way. We feel so blessed to be a part of the Habitat for Humanity family!”
The Hoene family home is sponsored by Sherwood Oaks Christian Church.