A big part of Habitat homebuyer Christianna’s story is the idea of “surrender:” turning things over to a higher power. While applying to become a Habitat homeowner, she always returned to the mantra, “If it’s meant to be, it will be.”
Well, here she is – boxes packed and ready for the next step of her journey.
Five years ago, Christianna had this dream of owning a home so that, wherever her five grandchildren ended up in the world, they could always come home to the same place.
“To have a home they can come to, to feel welcomed in, and to know each other,” she said, “that’s what Habitat is to me.”
Christianna has known about Habitat for Humanity’s mission since she was very young. Jimmy Carter was her favorite president, she said, and she learned about Habitat through his involvement with the organization.
When she caught wind of a waiting list for a local Habitat community a few years ago, she knew it was her time to apply.
“I thought, ‘What an opportunity, this is like a dream,’” she said. “I felt like Jimmy Carter just led me here.”
Her application was not selected for a home the first time around, but she felt fortunate that she had gotten the opportunity to share her experience with others. More importantly, she wasn’t done trying.
A couple of years later, she heard about another open application process with Habitat. This time, she got the call in April 2023. When she received the news that her application had been accepted, she remembers literally falling to the floor in shock.
“When it’s your time, it’s your time,” she said. “That started my journey, my dream of having my grandchildren all together.”
Christianna’s home is not only for her and her grandchildren, but also for her mother. Her mom now uses a walker and a wheelchair to get around, and this will be the first ADA home she’s lived in that suits her needs. As the adult child with an elderly parent, Christianna said, the peace of mind that her mother’s safety brings her is a huge relief.
Christianna has overcome many challenges to get to where she is today. While living in California’s Bay Area, she fell into a life of addiction and gave up hope for a while. She eventually came home to Oregon to get cleaned up and turn her life around.
Christianna currently lives in housing provided by Central City Concern, which she said has been a blessing until it was not. After everything she’s been through, she feels more than ready for the next step of her journey.
“As far as housing went, I started from the bottom,” she said. “I’ve lived in some rough places and I’ve lived in very nice places, but the one thing that stayed steady is I know I have people that love me.”
Christianna works as a peer wellness specialist with the Mental Health and Addiction Association of Oregon. She’s been clean and sober for the past five years, and said she loves getting to return the help that was given to her when she was struggling.
“Recovery, she said, “gave me a revitalization of why I’m here, and it’s just been gifts of life since then, small and huge.”
Christianna has put in many participation hours volunteering at the ReStore, working on construction sites and schmoozing at tabling events. Her friends came over to help her build the deck behind her home, and she also got to know her future neighbors while doing hands-on work together.
“I was very impressed and grateful for the mix of people here,” Christianna said. “I feel there’s a lot of equity here, and that’s big for me as a Black woman in Oregon. We’re all sincere and excited about having a home in a neighborhood that we feel safe in.”
While living in the Bay Area for 25 years, she always knew she wanted to retire in Oregon, but didn’t know how it would be possible with the rising costs of living. But through resilience, strength, support, and surrender, she made it happen.
“Family is everything and life has just proven that over and over and over and over again,” Christianna said. “If you’ve got a good family, you’ve got everything.”