Nestled into the King neighborhood of Northeast Portland resides Habitat homeowner, Cordel Green. As a homeowner of nearly 20 years, his house is a source of pride and acts as a centralizing force in his family. It’s a celebratory space where everyone gets together for birthdays and holidays. Just this past year, Cordel and his family celebrated paying off their mortgage. In honor of this milestone achievement, he and his wife, Marvelyn, reinvigorated their home with a fresh coat of paint; reviving the original brick red exterior and transforming each room with warm pinks, papayas, and tropical blues.

Some things have retained their natural luster: family portraits line every wall; smiling faces beam from picture frames on tables, atop shelves, and zigzag along the staircase. Their home serves a documentation of familial ties and growth, a monument of the many lives that have travelled through its walls.

“My house has been a home base for my family,” Cordel said. “I think everyone should be able to become a homeowner so they can keep family close.”

For Cordel, family is the most important thing in his life. When he applied for Habitat’s affordable homeownership program, he encouraged his sisters to apply as well. Now, he and two of his sisters are Habitat homeowners living within a two-mile radius of each other. They visit every week and have dinner every Sunday with their mother, who lives just down the street. Cordel considers himself blessed to have everyone in the same community.

“It’s a great neighborhood to live in,” Cordel said. “Portland is my home away from home.”

Born and raised in Jamaica, Cordel moved to the U.S. for a new life with more opportunity. He brought with him two daughters, Cordella and Marie, who dreamed of college. Shortly after he became a homeowner, Cordella went to college in Atlanta before settling down into a career as a psychologist and starting a family. His daughter, Marie, graduated from Oregon State University after earning the title of Lieutenant during her service in the Army; she now lives in Florida, building a career in accounting with a family of her own. He often visits them on his yearly trips to Montego Bay, each time astounded by how much his grandchildren have grown.

Back home in Portland, his two-bedroom home is still bustling with life. Cordel’s step-daughter and grandbaby recently moved into what once was Cordella and Marie’s room. They still keep familial traditions alive; eating dinner together every night surrounded by photographs of familiar faces and cherished moments. For Cordel’s family, their home is a reminder of time well spent, a testament of a life filled with good memories.

“It’s good to look around and see my neighbor’s house I helped build,” he said. “This is my neighborhood, this is my house, my home. I’m very happy to be here.”

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