Even with a moderate income, 37-year-old Carla Fields was able to own a home so her two children could have stability. Her dream came true in mid-December when she finalized her homeownership to her Longview Avenue home. This was all possible with the help of Nazareth Housing Development Corp., a non-profit, faith-based organization with a mission to provide housing to families with 60 to 80 percent of the median income.
“Basically, this has been a dream come true. I feel like this house is directly from God,” said Fields, who finalized possession of her new home in mid-December. “It's a faith-based organization, and that makes a world of difference. The service I got from them -- you could tell it wasn't just a job to them.”
Linda Oravecz, executive director of Nazareth Housing Development Corp., works with Kelly Lohr with not only a goal to provide homes to people like Carla Fields but to change lives by serving them.
“The vision is that we want clean, safe and happy neighborhoods. When you're looking at your neighborhood, and when you're serving someone in those neighborhoods, you just want to be able to say `wow,'” Oravecz said. “It's not just building a house or renting a house. You're making a huge impact on a family and their lives.”
“We want to be a part of positive change and let people know we're working with the neighborhood. We definitely believe in the community here,” Lohr said.
The organization also helps provide homes through building new homes, purchasing already established homes, and renting out homes. It was started in 1999 by the Rev. Gordon Yahner, pastor of St.Hilary Parish, Fairlawn. He is currently on the board of Nazareth Housing.
“It's our belief that every human being has a right to an education and to decent housing,” says Yahner.
Fields has attempted to exercise her right to homeownership before. She has even taken courses from the Mustard Seed Development Center and worked with another developer but was not satisfied with the work. But it wasn’t until Nazareth Housing worked with her that she was able to secure the house according to her taste. Even though at first she was unhappy about living so close to the busy street, Eastern Avenue, she eased up when she was able to become involved in designing her home by picking the carpet, shingles, paint and siding of the home.
“They have given me so many choices, I've been involved every step of the way. They were always pleasant, and no one ever treated me any differently because I had moderate income,” Fields said.
Chuck Bryant, the contractor who is currently working with Nazareth, finds his job rewarding. Bryant also tries his best to keep the costs of construction down by taking lower margins and getting the lowest deals for materials and labor.
“The buyers are happy to be involved. It gives them a greater sense of ownership,” Bryant said. “It's always nice to be involved with something that gives back to the community. Just being in a position to be able to help is important and a benefit, and I've enjoyed it.”
Nazareth Housing and its co-workers have achieved building something more than a house for Fields, the foundations for stability, pride, and a step forward.
“The main thing, I just wanted to do this for them. I wanted them to have a permanent home, some stability in their lives, in a home they could be proud of,” Fields said. “Actually owning my own home... It's a steppingstone for anyone.”
Nazareth Housing is currently constructing two more homes on Rosamond Avenue, according to Oravecz and is in the process of acquiring four more lots on Roslyn Avenue.