All that Anthony desires is to provide his daughters with a stable upbringing and a safe place to lay their heads at night. It’s something he’s sought after for years while moving from one apartment to another in search of affordable rent. Now, with his girls outgrowing their shared bedroom, he’s secured a path for his family to live a more prosperous life by partnering with Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s important for me to own a home for my kids,” Anthony says. “Living in all these apartment complexes, you have to deal with a lot of stuff. Owning a home is more peaceful and it’s your own.”
Now he has the opportunity to create a more permanent change for himself and his daughters. Not only will he be the first in his immediate family to own a home, he will also be able to create a foundation upon which his daughters can thrive.
It’s known that the stability homeownership provides is inextricably linked to a child’s educational and vocational success. In fact, 92% of children in Oregon who grow up in a Habitat home graduate from high school. But this is also true: Anthony’s family is much more than a statistic.
From a bird’s eye view, Anthony’s life is like any other single dad: he wakes up at the early hour of 5:30 every morning, gets his daughters ready for school, and makes his way to work. After picking up his youngest, Cherrie, from elementary school and waiting for his eldest, Antoinette, to finish her track meet, they make their way back home, eat dinner, and catch a bit of evening news before bed.
But zoom in close and you can see that Anthony’s life has been a series of transformations. Fourteen years ago he was gifted with the new life of his first daughter, Antoinette. Although a functioning addict, his dependence crippled him from providing the basic needs for his small family. Fast forward a few years later, fed up with the lifestyle he’d surrounded himself with, Anthony entered a recovery program at Central City Concern (CCC) and found a supportive community within its structure. His family rallied for his recovery and with a strong sense of determination and will to be an exemplary father, he secured a full-time job at CCC maintaining their downtown facilities. Not two years would pass until his youngest daughter, Cherrie, was born and Anthony became a father to two daughters who would become the center of his life.
“It was hard in the beginning,” he says. “I didn’t have a car so I would take two buses and the MAX to get to work and then three buses home. The days were long and tiring, but I love my girls so I made it work.”
For someone who admittedly doesn’t like change, Anthony took charge in altering his own life dramatically. He’s beat all the odds and is now taking that final step toward becoming a homeowner.
As a Portland native, Anthony has seen his city change dramatically, as well. A once small metropolitan pocket on the border of Oregon and Washington has boomed into a bustling urban landscape. He watched as North Portland, a predominantly African American neighborhood, slowly recede into the numbers.
“Everyone got pushed out,” he says. “And then you want to get pushed out because you don’t want to fall asleep with everything that was going on in that neighborhood. So I don’t mind going back. It’s safer now.”
Once Anthony’s home is complete, he will join an entire community with ties to North Portland. He and his neighbors will all qualify for affordable homeownership through the N/NE Preference Policy, the City’s initiative to help residents, who have been displaced, return to these communities. Those with generational ties now have the opportunity to reestablish their lives in a place they once called home.
Anthony’s family will own one of twelve homes in permanently affordable condominiums in the Portsmouth neighborhood.
“When I move in, I’m going to Facetime everyone I know and say, ‘You guys see this? You guys see this? I’m here!’” Anthony says, chuckling.
Having a home of his own will bring him that peace of mind knowing that all the years of perseverance will provide his daughters a space to grow and call their own. Cherrie says she’s excited to have her own room so she can decorate it with girly things and fuzzy pillows. Antoinette’s room will be a place her friends can hang out and offer a tranquil place to study so she can ace another year of high school as she sets her sights on college. For Anthony, it will mean he has come full circle: returning to a place he grew up and now he and his daughters can create a new life together in a place they can call home.