The Ou/Chen family have created great memories in their cozy, four-bedroom home in Southeast Portland. But for the last six years, Yan Ou, her husband Xiao Chen, and their two children have shared the home with no fewer than 10 people. Yan’s parents, siblings, and their kids all call this crowded dwelling ‘home’ and Yan’s family occupies just one bedroom of the space. Living with extended family makes life a little more chaotic for the Ou/Chen family and Yan and Xiao encounter many difficulties teaching their children with the constant distractions. 

It is estimated that over 12,000 people are “doubled up” in Portland, living with friends and family members in order to survive. Research has shown that homes with excessive noise, crowding, and lack of structure can contribute to smaller vocabularies, lower IQs, and stress in children. Habitat understands how housing quality can impact a child’s health, education, and well-being and strives to provide safe, affordable homes where parents can feel empowered to meet their family’s needs. Kids who grow up in Habitat homes are healthier and more likely to graduate high school and college. 

After being accepted into Habitat’s homeownership program, Yan completed her initial training and is now working through her 300 sweat equity hours alongside her husband. The program fits the needs of Yan and Xiao’s small family as they can’t afford to enter Portland’s tight housing market with their income from serving and seafood delivery. Now, they will be able to purchase a home with an affordable mortgage and save money for other necessities. Yan also considers it a plus that her new home will be in the same neighborhood, conveniently situated near the rest of her family. “I like the Jade District – everything is very convenient,” she said. “It’s close to my family, and when {they} have parties, I can tag along.” 

The Habitat homeownership program provides a unique opportunity for Yan and Xiao to raise their kids in a permanent home that they will help to build and soon call their own. Yan is excited about the new life she will be able to create for her family saying “To be able to take care of my own house, I am so happy, it’s so fun. I’m learning a lot.”