A year of change: how Hayley found her dream home with Habitat for Humanity 

A lot can change in a year. In June 2023, Hayley was getting priced out of her small one-bedroom apartment in Northeast Portland, all while trying to support herself and her husband, who was temporarily out of a job due to health issues, on just her single income. But now, in June 2024, she and her family are financially secure in a Habitat home that she owns.   

“With all of our health stuff and financial issues that were going on, just having one place that we knew we could live in and never be priced out of was a huge stress reliever,” Hayley said.  

Hayley is an affordable housing advocate, cat lover, and sewing enthusiast. Her home reflects her personality: a painted home office for her work as an urban planner for the City of Vancouver, a designated cat room with a cut-out door, and a vibrant sewing area with a pegboard displaying all her notions.  

Hayley is able to add personal touches to her Habitat home, which she was unable to do in her rented apartments.

These personalized touches, which make a house a home, would never have been possible in their rented apartment. 

Hayley and Drew found out about Habitat through Hayley’s job. They bought through Proud Ground, a Habitat partner and community land trust program that creates permanently affordable homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers.  

“We weren’t thinking about buying a place at all because it felt out of reach, it probably would have been like 10 years or more,” Hayley said. “It happened really quickly and I’m glad we did it.” 

At 29 years old, Hayley said she never thought in a million years that she would own a home in her 30’s, let alone 20’s. The timing was extra special because her mom bought her first home around the same time she did.  

“It’s just nothing I ever thought would happen in my youth,” she said. “Most of my friends are renters who are facing the same stresses that we had before.” 

Hayley and Drew moved to Portland from Chicago in 2021. They wanted to escape the Midwest cold and live closer to Hayley’s family in Washington.  

In her role with the City of Vancouver, Hayley says she gets contacted every day by people looking for affordable housing, just like she was before moving into her Habitat home.  

“There are not enough resources,” she said. “The Portland metro area is in need of more housing that prioritizes people over profit and includes everyone.”  

Over the past year, Hayley and Drew have developed a strong sense of community in their neighborhood. They frequent local spots and have enjoyed seeing their Habitat community grow as new neighbors move in. 

“With this happening at this point in my life, it has really shifted our trajectory,” Hayley said.

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