Tangela and Casey McClelland had what they describe as a “pretty normal life” but learned quickly that normal can change in an instant.
They owned their home in Dayton, Ohio and both held good jobs that they enjoyed. Tangela became pregnant and she and Casey planned for the arrival of their daughter, Abby, excited about expanding their family.
Everything for their family changed immediately, however, when Abby was born very pre-mature and weighed only one-pound. “Here we were faced with the most amazing blessing our lives, our beautiful and tiny daughter, yet we were also faced with impossible choices to ensure the best care for her,” shared Tangela. She had to leave her job to focus on being Abby’s caretaker full-time as millions of dollars in medical debt piled up.
Abby was healthy and doing well and Casey worked as much as he could to provide for the family and pay the bills. Eventually though, it all became too much. Casey and Tangela lost their home and were forced to relocate to Bloomington near family to avoid becoming homeless and to try and get back on their feet.
Although they have a roof over their head, their current living situation is dire—the three of them share one common room in an unfinished basement with no kitchen, no storage, and a small bathroom. While they have learned to adapt and work to make the best of it, the lack of privacy and space has taken its toll on everyone. “Abby has lived in a single room from age 10—16,” Tangela shared. “She is a young woman now and needs her own private space — we all do.”
Over the years, Casey and Tangela have tried to improve their living situation by exploring both rental and buying options. The issue they ran into is common in Bloomington: cost and availability. “Rentals here in town are just too expensive and there were no affordable homes on the market to purchase anywhere near our price range,” said Casey. After not having any success in the home-buying process, they were referred to Habitat by Scott Muckerheide a loan originator at Prime Lending here in Bloomington. “Scott thought we would be a great fit for the Habitat program and we are so thankful he encouraged us to check it out,” Casey shared.
Throughout their partnership, they have found the homeownership classes — particularly financial management — to be very helpful and have really enjoyed the time they have spent earning their sweat equity helping out in the Habitat office. “When you’re doing your sweat equity and volunteering, it is not just ‘earning hours’—these hours and the work you do helps people get on their feet,” said Casey. “It feels like a big family is working together to help you get to the end goal of owning your home.”
Tangela shared how being able to come into the office and help has reinvigorated a sense of purpose in her life. “Before we joined the program, I would spend most of my days in a basement, in bed,” she tells us. “Being able to get out of the house and volunteer to work towards buying our home has changed everything for me mentally. I’m forever grateful for this opportunity and plan to keep giving back even after we close on our house.”
The entire family is excited to be moving into Trail View for the tight-knit community and easy access to the B-Line Trail. Tangela is hoping to get involved in the Homeowner’s Association and Abby, who loves kids, is thrilled to meet, get to know (and maybe even babysit) the children in the neighborhood. Casey and Tangela are both incredibly proud of Abby’s ability to not just withstand adversity but to flourish from it. “She has seen our struggle and is so grounded and motivated to do better for herself and her life,” said Casey. Despite the hardship of their living situation, Abby has maintained excellent grades and is hoping to attend college to study biology or engineering.
Even with their current living situation, the family deliberately makes time to be present together, often having “device-free movie nights” or spending time outdoors together walking city trails. They can’t wait to continue this and re-establish lost family traditions, all while working towards being completely financially independent and standing on their own as homeowners again.
“First and foremost, we all can’t wait to have our own rooms back and to regain some privacy. Six years is a long time to share one common space,” said Tangela. “Then we think about the more fun stuff too like having our first Christmas or simply sitting on the porch and reading a book. We’ve lost our own family traditions over the past five years and the excitement around creating them again and celebrating together is hard to put into words.”
The McClelland family home is sponsored by Habitat for Humanity of Monroe County Homeowners.
Decent, affordable housing doesn’t always look like new construction. At times, Habitat has the opportunity to house a family in a home previously owned by another Habitat family at approximately a quarter of the cost of building a new house. This allows us to serve people in our program more quickly. Casey, Tangela and Abby are excited to be moving into such a home in our established Trail View neighborhood!