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Homeownership a sweet dream for young family
As Abdi Aden made his way up the ladder, the heat of the morning and uncertainty of the work ahead hung in the air. For the first time in his life, he was building a home – his own home and, with each swing of a hammer, a new future for his young family.
Down below, his wife Mariam and the couple’s three children – sons Imran, 6, and Idris, 1, and daughter Iman, 4 – took in the sights and sounds of the busy construction scene. Imran was already dreaming of his future, specifically a Mickey Mouse-themed bedroom.
“He’s already planning,” said Mariam of her oldest son.
The Adens are the 15th family to help build their own homes at the Tempe Parkview Townhome development, a partnership between the City of Tempe and Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona.
By mid-2019, all 18 townhomes in the community will be filled with families who never imagined that they could find a path to homeownership.
The Adens will be living across the street from family members, making this dream even sweeter.
“I couldn’t buy a home with the amount of money I was making,” said Abdi. “When I found out about Habitat for Humanity and the locations they had, I was excited.”
“Tempe basically offered us the location and the convenience of everything that we needed for a family of our size,” he said.
Expanding housing options
The Tempe Parkview Townhome community, at 1937 E. Don Carlos Ave., is the first of its kind for the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity.
The City of Tempe purchased the property near McClintock and University drives using federal Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds. With an eye toward creating more affordable housing, the city later partnered with Habitat to create a unique development that calls for three-story townhomes with a modern look and feel.
The city contributed federal HOME funds to maintain affordability of individual townhomes and also provided HOME funds for down payment assistance.
The City of Tempe is focused on providing a variety of affordable housing options through government programs and partnerships with private developers and nonprofit organizations.
“We are dedicated to expanding housing services to meet the needs of our community,” said Naomi Farrell, Human Services Director. “Every day, we assist low-income families, seniors, veterans, people with disabilities, victims of domestic violence, people with serious mental illness and others who struggle to find safe and affordable housing.”
“Through this partnership with Habitat for Humanity, 18 families – moms, dads and children – are being provided access to affordable home ownership,” she said.
Under the Habitat model, families who qualify pay for their homes with a no-profit loan and a down payment in the form of hundreds of hours of “sweat equity.” The latter means that families, along with volunteers, physically have a hand in building their own homes.
A place to call home
The Adens are originally from Somalia and both fled the civil war there, landing in the United States at different times and in different places. They met in Phoenix and married in 2011.
Both U.S. citizens now, the couple has moved from apartment to apartment as the family has grown. With three children, they wanted something bigger and more permanent.
Homeownership always seemed out of reach financially. Abdi works as a truck driver for a company in Glendale and Mariam stays home with the children.
But when Mariam’s sister qualified for a townhome in Tempe through Habitat, the Adens set their sights on joining her family in the community.
That is how Abdi found himself atop a ladder in the early morning of Sept. 15, a sweltering day that nonetheless brought family and strangers together to begin work on the Aden home. Abdi was joined by his brother, father and brother-in-law.
After several hours, family, volunteers and Habitat leaders came together for an informal blessing ceremony for the home. Later, everyone grabbed pens and spread out, writing hopeful messages on the home’s wood framing.
Four-year-old Iman clutched a stuffed animal as she wrote her own name on a wall. Her bedroom likely will be filled with the color pink, her favorite. She talks about being a doctor when she grows up and her parents muse about the possibility of their children all attending nearby ASU one day.
Mariam snapped photos of her family signing walls before writing her own simple message: “Love and peace.”
The Adens are hoping to move into their home early next year.
“We are very excited and we can’t wait,” said Abdi. “Building a home from beginning to end is perfect.”
“We are very blessed to have an affordable home in Tempe,” he said. “This is a great city.”
Watch the Aden family home being built and learn more about the Habitat community here.
Learn more about Tempe’s housing programs and services here.
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