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Habitat for Humanity Portland homeowner Trisha

By: Monicia Warner

Growing up on her family’s land in a small town located outside of Vancouver, WA taught Trisha the security that comes from living in a tight-knit community. She spent her childhood in a home that her parents built and still live in today.

“We moved in and it wasn’t even finished,” Trisha said. “They saved all their pennies.”

But when Trisha moved to Portland, began her career as a Para educator, and started a family, being a homeowner was far from her mind.

“I never really wanted to have my own house, I don’t know why” Trisha said.

For a while, Trisha and her daughter lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Southeast Portland. Though she enjoyed certain aspects of the space, like the balcony of the kitchen, the home itself was somewhat rundown and Trisha knew that her daughter would eventually need more privacy.

So she set out to find a two-bedroom apartment that was ingood shape, affordable, and would provide the privacy and security she and her daughter needed. After a lengthy search, Trisha thought she had found the perfect place to call home.

“It had everything: a patio, and a yard, and a garage,” Trisha said. Then they realized they were looking at the wrong apartment on the wrong street “My daughter burst into tears, and I thought, ‘that’s the end of that.’”

At the time, Trisha was working at a school where many of her colleagues would volunteer at Habitat for Humanity. One of them encouraged her to apply for a Habitat home and once she was accepted into the affordable homeownership program, she began putting in the “sweat equity hours” to restore a home donated to Habitat for Humanity in the Grant neighborhood.

“It took me a while to get used to the idea of owning a home, but it was exciting,” Trisha said.

While the home was under construction, she and her daughter would make regular trips to the neighborhood to observe the progress. Trisha remembers the first time they visited, a future neighbor invited them in for tea and cookies. This unexpected welcome reminded her of the value of belonging to a community.

Once settled in to her brand new home, having an affordable mortgage opened up new ways she could invest in herself and her family. Trisha was able to pursue her master’s degree in teaching and provide more stability for her daughter to grow.

“I thought it was important for her to have that sense of security so she could feel rooted and be able to go out and explore,” Trisha said.

Trisha’s daughter has since settled down in New Orleans, where she owns a home that she hopes to turn into a community house.

“She has a tool lending room she opens up to the neighborhood where she lives,” Trisha said. “She’s very much an advocate for the underdog.”

Recently retired, Trisha now spends her free time making home improvement through Proud Ground’s CASA program and volunteering with local arts organizations. She looks back on her Habitat experience as one that gave her a solid foundation upon which to build a future for her family.

“People said, ‘you’re going to feel secure’ and that’s exactly what happened.”

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