Duc and his mother lived in a small, one-bedroom apartment in NE Portland. Inside that small bedroom were two beds: one for Duc and one for his mom.

Privacy was a huge issue for Duc. He often slept out in the living room so that his mom could have the bedroom to herself. The cramped quarters made life difficult. The apartment was very cold, making it challenging to sleep, to study, and to focus. They lived in an unsafe neighborhood and Duc often worried that something bad could happen to his mom.

Duc’s mom was a janitor and struggled to make the monthly rent payments. This stress impacted Duc as well. He didn’t like to see his mom struggle. As Duc got older, the rent continued to rise. When Duc entered high school, he imagined that one day they may have to move to outside of Portland in order to live in a more affordable home.

His mother decided to apply to Habitat for Humanity’s homeownership program—and she was accepted. Soon after, Duc and his mom worked on their sweat equity hours learning construction skills. Out on the construction site, Duc realized that he loved working with his hands and learning a new trade.

In 2003, Duc and his mom moved into their new home. This was life-changing for both of them. Duc finally had his own room. He could focus on his studies. And he no longer worried about leaving his mom home alone. Duc noticed that homeownership changed his mother, too. She was very humble, but so proud to be a homeowner. He didn’t know where they would be without Habitat.

“She is very happy that she has a house and she feels like it’s something that she’s proud of,” shared Duc. “Homeownership is an asset to her. It makes her strive to become a better person every day ever since she was a homeowner.”

For years Duc struggled to figure out his path in life, but with the safety and stability of living in a new home, he had time to think about the next steps in his life. Duc decided to pursue a career in construction, inspired by the skills he learned while working on his sweat equity hours with his mom.

“Habitat was the foundation of my career. I started to do construction and wanted to learn the trades a bit more and then I got a degree in construction management [from Boise State University].”

Fast forward to today, it’s been 12 years since Duc first moved into his new home with his mom. Duc is now a Construction Manager, leading a construction crew team right here in Portland. And, in his spare time, Duc enjoys doing home improvement projects around their Habitat home—remodeling the bathroom, putting in hardwood floors—skills he later learned in college.

At Habitat for Humanity, we believe that every kid deserves the opportunity to live in a safe, warm and stable home. So, when you invest in a home through Habitat, you’re investing in the potential of kids who are in similar circumstances as Duc was many years ago.