Shirley’s “New Lease On Life”

Shirley’s “New Lease On Life”

Prior to five years ago, Shirley had never lived in an apartment. She had always rented homes as she was raising her family. But, she needed to downsize and found a rental that seemed to suit her needs.

“At first when I moved in it was good,” she says. “But rent has been going up every year. It’s now over $1000 [per month].”

Shirley went on to explain the issues she’s been facing in her two bedroom apartment. 

“There are mold issues, leaking issues,” she said.

Yet, because of the rising cost of housing in the city, Shirley said it’s hard to move and find something better. That was until she found out about Milwaukee Habitat’s affordable homeownership program. First-time buyers can build a brand new home where little to no down payment is required, closing costs are low, and the home loan will not exceed 30% of a family’s income – widely recognized as the threshold for affordable housing.

“I’ve always lived paycheck to paycheck, never thinking I could have anything that was my own,” she said. “When I got approved, my heart did a happy dance.”

As rents continue to rise faster than wages, families are forced to spend more and more of their income on housing. This often cuts into saving for things like a down payment on a house. Not being able to afford a down payment is one of the most significant barriers to US renters who seek to become first-time homebuyers. At Habitat, we work to break down those barriers and level the playing field for local families.

“This home gives me privacy, peace, and a new lease on life,” Shirley says. “It’ll be somewhere my grandkids can play outside. I have 11 of them.”

Shirley is excited to plant flower gardens around the yard and have family barbecues once she moves in. She says being able to become a first-time homebuyer at this point in her life is ‘the best thing that could ever happen to me.’

Help break down the barriers to first-time homeownership for more local families.
Give your time and talents in our ReStores, on our build sites or join a committee.
Donate gently used furniture, appliances, home goods and more to support our work to make the cost of home something we all can afford.