As he stands on the front porch of his new home, and looks around his neighborhood, Ron is pleased. “Look what habitat has done in one year,” says Ron.
Ron and his wife have northeast Wichita roots. They’re new home in Habitat’s Rock the Block renovation area, is less than a mile from where they’ve lived for the past 10 years. So, they know what this area used to look like.
“I can remember a couple of years ago, it looked like a dump over here,” Ron continues. “Now it’s so peaceful and it’s beautiful.”
He’s right; it is beautiful. Now, perfect little houses line the street and you can just feel the pride of homeownership beaming from Ron and from the neighbors. Most of them moved in within the past few months. Ron’s already adding a few personal touches to his home.
A long term renter, he admits he wasn’t initially excited about the prospects of homeownership, but his wife nudged him on.
“I would be lying if I was to tell you that I didn’t think they would accept me,” Ron says.
His wife Patricia said ‘let’s go check it out,” so Ron attended the information meeting with her.
They liked what they heard, so they decided to go ahead and complete the paper work. Still, the negatives kept drifting into Ron’s mind.
“‘They ain’t going to accept us,’ I kept telling myself.”
Even up until it was time to move in, he kept thinking something would fall apart, but it didn’t. Two months ago, almost a year to the day they attended their initial meeting, Ron and Patricia moved into their new Habitat home. The program delivered and the couple delivered on their part.
Their obligation was simple, says Ron. They attended 40 hours of educational classes where they learned to develop a budget and how to be good homeowners and they saved the $2,000 they needed for closing costs. In addition, they completed 250 hours of sweat equity, by working on the construction of their home and the homes of their neighbors.
Ron hung doors, installed sheet rock, mowed lawns, drilled, hammered, worked a saw and even helped install a roof.
“It was fun, and I learned a lot,” says Ron. He’s currently using the skills he learned to add a few personal touches to his new home. In addition, working on the homes, helped him get to know his neighbors.
He says the community is like a mini United Nations. The residents are Hispanic, Asian and Black. Ron, who is Black, wishes more African-Americans would participate in the program.
“Black folks won’t sign up. I’ll be talking to them, and they’re like ‘they’re giving all the houses to the Mexicans. I won’t go sign up; they won’t give it to me.’”
Ron, who remembers his lingering doubts says he can understand how they feel and what they feel. But if he can qualify for a home, he wants people to know, so can they.
“I ain’t special,” says Ron. He and his wife are 52 and 53 years old. She works at a hospital and he works at a plant, and they qualified.
“I love Habitat; I love them,” he says. “Most organizations are coming in taking millions out of the community. Have you ever heard of Sav-a-lot or the Dollars Stores giving anything back? Habitat, they’ve given us something we can put our hands on.”