It was a day full of cheers and joyful tears as 40 moms, dads, kids, and grandparents received keys to brand new homes at our home dedication for the Brooklyn Pines community in Southeast Portland. Community members from all walks of life came together to celebrate the achievement of homeownership and its lasting effects on everyday life.

Owning a home goes beyond generating wealth; it serves as a cornerstone of stability. With a solid foundation in place, homeowners can take pride in a space of their own and thrive in all aspects of life. That rings true for Shemia Fagan, who is running for Oregon State Senator, and shared her mother’s story of battling homelessness and becoming a homeowner late in life.

“She achieved an ordinary life, but not because it just happened to her, she had to fight for it,” Shemia said. “Today we are here to celebrate families who have been fighting for the civility of an ordinary life.”

Everyone deserves a safe and quality place to call home. For Tonya, a Habitat homebuyer who’s raising two boys and working tirelessly to provide a happy life for her daughter, Zania, who’s disabled, all that hard work is finally paying off.

“Walking in and seeing everything complete—I had to hold back the tears,” she said. “There are a lot of people who work really hard to get to this place and Habitat simplified it. It was still a lot of work, but in comparison to what other people have to go through to get to this point, it’s significant.”

The 10 homes at Brooklyn Pines will join the 100 homes we’ve built in Southeast Portland thus far, spanning across various neighborhoods with differing histories. What unites them is the strength that affordable communities give to enriching this contrasting city. It’s a notion we can all agree upon.

“We are founded on the ideology of the hammer,” Steve Messinetti, Habitat for Humanity Portland/Metro East President and CEO, said. “Which says that we can disagree on many things– politics, religion, etc., but if we can agree on the use of the hammer to demonstrate our love and help our neighbor who needs a hand, let’s work together.”