A family works for the American dream
with a helping hand from Paterson Habitat & supporters like you!
The American dream is taking root on Summer Street --- in a Paterson neighborhood where residents' biggest dream used to be moving out.
Now Paterson Habitat homeowners like Ana and José are moving in, helping to revive the neighborhood as they work to realize their version of the American dream with a helping hand from Habitat.
Neither Ana nor Jose spoke English when they arrived in Paterson from their native Colombia. And despite his university degree, the only job José could get was working in a factory.
"When you come here you start from zero again," José said. "But work is work and you do what you have to do to."
These proud naturalized citizens worked hard to learn English quickly. José's diligent work at the factory caught the attention of management and he was made a supervisor. And even while struggling with a new language, he enrolled at Fairleigh Dickinson University and is now just a few credits short of getting a bachelor's degree in business.
But even the joint best efforts of this determined young couple couldn't find a way to buy a decent home at an affordable price. Their only option was the rental market, where high rents for substandard housing soak up the resources of so many low and moderate income families.
That problem was solved when they connected with Paterson Habitat. Two years ago they moved into an attractive townhouse on Summer Street, which they joined our volunteer construction crews in building as part of their 400 hours of "sweat equity" . The house is part of a community of Habitat homes in the city's troubled 4th Ward where we are concentrating our neighborhood revitalization drive.
"When you're renting you pay and pay and have nothing to show for it," said Ana, who works in a daycare center and does the family budgeting. "Now this is really our home forever, for us and for our children."
The day they moved into their new home, José got a new job marketing hydraulic components. And a year later Ana gave birth to their daughter Camilla, an adorable little girl who just celebrated her first birthday.
"Cami" took her first steps on a floor installed by Habitat volunteers. And she will grow up with the security of living in a home her parents financed with an interest-free mortgage from Paterson Habitat.
We consider this an investment in their family's future, and a vote of confidence in the American dream.