A New Home
Tracilla Dobbins in front of her new Habitat house build. “If you have your own [house], at a certain point you don’t have to continue to pay, not only for me but for my baby and then for generations on. It’s always a place to call home.” Photo by Emilie Nguyen.
“My mom has been having this dream…”
Some gifts are easily forgotten, while others are so special they provide delight for many years. The gift that Habitat for Humanity Louisville provides is not only bestowed by the many people who donate to the organization or help build affordable houses. The gift is something homebuyers give themselves — the education, hard work, and empowerment they receive during the Habitat process that inspire everyone who knows them.
Sherita Smith and her three children moved into their Habitat home in the Russell neighborhood in 2017. “When I was renting, I was paying so much in rent,” she says, which was part of the reason she looked into becoming a Habitat homebuyer. Plus, she wanted a house for her children to grow up in. She also knew having a house would help her build on her credit.
While attaining her sweat equity hours, Sherita says she learned so much about taking care of a home. “In the class, it was so great. We learned how to fix things. They taught us how to purchase old furniture and fix it up. We learned how to use putty and put down floors,” she says.
Volunteers work on the Habitat house.
View of Tracilla Dobbins’ new Habitat house build. Submitted photo.
Sherita’s son, Tyree, was excited about the prospect of getting a house as well. “We’re living in a better environment and newer home,” he says. “My mom has been having this dream for a couple years. It’s inspired me to set my own goals and try to accomplish them. She proved her goal, so she taught me I should have goals in my life.”
While most new homeowners might feel overwhelmed, Sherita says she didn’t feel intimidated or nervous. “We got so prepared for everything at Habitat; I knew what to expect,” she says. “My mindset was, ‘I’m gonna get in this program and put my best foot forward.’ I was glad I have a good job because my job worked with me on my hours [to fulfill her sweat equity hours].” The only thing that threw her off a little was receiving two sewer bills after she purchased the lot next door to her home to increase her acreage.
Like Sherita, Tracilla Dobbins has seen the empowerment aspect of Habitat firsthand. Her cousin had a house built with Habitat’s assistance, and she helped work on it, so she had an idea of what was involved in the process. She has put equity hours into building another Habitat house. She gave birth to a baby girl in early October, so she was limited in what she could do.
Sherita Smith with a long-time volunteer. Volunteers help build houses, as well as help mentor and teach finance and homeownership skills.
Volunteers work on the Habitat home for Sherita Smith and her three children in the Russell neighborhood a few years ago. Submitted photo.
Tracilla says learning about budgeting has been especially helpful for her. “When it comes to my finances, [Habitat] has really helped me look at it differently,” she says. While she has always put money into savings, the classes have helped her see exactly where she spends. “It has shown me where the money goes, the extra money that I spend. It has me on a budget,” she says.
Buying her own home makes her a little nervous, but Tracilla knows the value of home ownership is not just for herself alone. “I’ve always been the type of person that doesn’t want to rent forever. If you have your own [house], at a certain point you don’t have to continue to pay, not only for me but for my baby and then for generations on. It’s good for my family when I’m not here. It’s always a place to call home,” she says.
P.S. Learn more about volunteering with Habitat for Humanity.