Join us as we kick off our fifth decade, and stay tuned for a new story each month as we thank all the groups, volunteers, partners, and individuals who are launching us into a future for affordable housing. This January, learn more about our mission to help new homeowners and meet one of our homebuyers below!
When Jane bought her Habitat home in Sandtown-Winchester, she didn’t know that she was buying so much more than a house. She couldn’t have known that this home on Leslie Street would become a meeting place for all her friends, family, and neighbors, and eventually be handed down to her children. Last summer, she paid off her mortgage on her home.
“I think homeownership is important because there is a great sense of accomplishment,” said Jane. “Being a homeowner wasn’t just about me – it was about my family, my community, it was being part of a bigger picture, and I think everybody should have the opportunity to be able to call something their own.”
Habitat Chesapeake completed more than 300 homes in the Sandtown-Winchester area of Baltimore, including several that were built in partnership with the Jimmy & Rosalynn Carter Work Project. Like Jane, all Habitat Chesapeake homeowners buy these homes with an affordable monthly mortgage, investing at least 250 “sweat equity” hours in service and partnering in homeownership education courses.
“I always knew [that] one day, I wanted to become a homeowner – I never necessarily thought about it being in Sandtown, in the community I was born and raised in, but certainly it was a blessing,” said Jane.
Born in the 15 block area of Sandtown-Winchester, Jane and her family had strong roots in the community well before she became a Habitat homeowner. As a co-director at Sandtown’s New Song Community Learning Center, Jane recognized the importance of raising children in close proximity to their families, schools, and community role models. Raising four young children of her own, Jane’s home on Leslie Street is only two minutes away from New Song Academy, where her children were able to graduate and go on to college, get jobs, or build their own businesses.
In addition to raising four children under one roof, Jane also remembers how her home became the “meeting spot” for the entire neighborhood – a place where everyone on the block could be welcomed, and where she could host events and holidays.
Jane brought out photos from her dedication day, an emotional memory, and recalled how powerful it was to see all the new families moving in together on the block.
“It was a wonderful experience,” she said of dedication day. “I think I was nervous; I was happy, and I was excited. And most of all, I think I was just ready. I was just ready to get in there. I was excited to show my family and friends what the house looked like inside,” she said, looking at photos of herself with her children cutting the ribbon to their new home. “It was a great sense of joy just to see everybody on the block, because all of our homes got dedicated at the same time. Just seeing all the families together celebrating was an amazing feeling. It just reminded me that it wasn’t just about me at that moment – it was the beginning of something great for the entire block.”
Today, Jane is an office manager at a mental health services institute, and one of her children is also a Habitat homeowner. Looking back, she fondly remembers her time raising her children together in one place, where several of her grandchildren are now being raised. She knows that she always has a place to bring her family together.
“I think homeownership is important because there is a great sense of accomplishment. You’re going from one stage to another. Again, being a homeowner wasn’t just about me – it was about my family, my community, it was being part of a bigger picture, and I think everybody should have the opportunity to be able to call something their own, something that they can build and know that it’s going to be there. And you can continue to pass it down to your family so that they too can have that great start, and then one day own their own homes.”
Watch our video and learn more about Jane’s experience as a Habitat homeowner in Sandtown. Jane’s story is just one of the many stories of our homeowners we want to celebrate as we look back at 40 years of service to the central Maryland region, and we look forward to another decade.