a miracle leads to a bright future

Their two small children run and play in the fenced in backyard. Neighbors come by on Sunday afternoon, bringing food for a potluck dinner. Inside there’s plenty of natural light and a climate control system that keeps them comfortable year round. 

An idyllic but not unusual slice of family life? Yes, but for Paola and her husband Willy, their new Habitat home is more than that.

 "It's a miracle,” Paola said.

It's a miracle that brought them from living in a windowless basement room when Paola was pregnant with their daughter Priscilla, now 2. That dark hole was accessible only by a bulkhead door from the backyard, where the landlord wouldn't allow their son Willy Daniel, now 3-1/2, to play.

Despite Willy working two jobs six days a week, the combination of low income and high housing costs meant that a cellar room with chronically broken plumbing was the best they could do. Then a family friend referred them to Paterson Habitat.

Araujo Family 015.JPG

"At first I couldn’t believe there was an organization that would help us buy a new home with such a low down payment and a zero-interest mortgage," Willy said. "But it was true.

So these young parents, who met in high school in their native Dominican Republic, began the process of becoming Habitat homeowners.  That meant putting in 400 hours of volunteer "sweat equity" labor, saving up their modest down-payment, taking homeowner classes and getting ready to handle affordable monthly mortgage payments.

Less than two years later they moved into a three-bedroom home in Paterson's 1st Ward on a street where the presence of other Habitat families is helping stabilize the neighborhood.  Their new home was built by our construction volunteers and financed by the donors who make Paterson Habitat possible.

“We thank God and the people of Habitat for making it happen. Now our kids can grow up in a decent home we can call our own.”