Healing and home: Victoria and Roger find a stability all their own 

Victoria, right, with her son Roger

“It ends with us.” 

This is Habitat homeowner Victoria’s motto when it comes to breaking family cycles of housing instability. She and her 15-year-old son, Roger, are setting a new family precedent: one of homeownership, staying in one place, and prioritizing their mental health and self-care.  

The pair has lived in their Habitat home since 2017. Over the years, the house has become a home, with traces of their personalities in every room.  

Victoria’s turquoise aerial silks hang from the ceiling in the living room, where she practices yoga to heal her mind and body. Roger’s video games, posters, and CD collection adorn the walls and shelves of his bedroom, the only room he’s ever had all to himself. The ofrenda, a traditional altar used during Dia de Los Muertos, in the garage honors family members who have passed on.  

Before moving into their Habitat home, Victoria and Roger lived in numerous places, including a small cabin within an agricultural community in Hood River. They did not have a bathroom or shower in their cabin, and Victoria remembers having to put on snow boots to walk to the bathroom in the middle of the night.  

After that, they lived with Victoria’s sister for a couple of years. Sharing a bed during that time makes them especially grateful to have their own three-bedroom home today.  

“We didn’t have a choice; I couldn’t afford two beds,” Victoria said. 

But eventually, Victoria’s sister moved out, and she and Roger had to figure something else out for housing. They were homeless for one summer, and Victoria sent Roger to live with his dad while she slept in her car and showered at work.  

But then they moved into their Habitat home and started a new chapter. The struggle for a place to sleep was over. 

“Now we have three rooms to pick from that we can sleep in,” she said. “I am super blessed and super grateful that I can provide for my son and say, ‘This is your room.’” 

Part of that chapter has been improved grades for Roger. Because he no longer has to worry about where he is going to live, he can focus all his attention on schoolwork.  

“I don’t have to worry about if we are going to lose the house, or if we have enough food,” Roger said. “The stress doesn’t add onto my schoolwork.”  

Research shows that when kids experience stability in housing, it improves classroom mobility rates and education outcomes. 92% of kids who grow up in a Habitat home in Oregon graduate from high school. 

Heading into his sophomore year, Roger is on track to do just that.  

Victoria mentioned that another blessing of homeownership has been the ability to help friends and family when they need a place to stay. She can help others instead of depend on them financially, and for the first time, she said, she’s actually been able to “afford life.” 

“With Roger and I living here, it’s made me realize how blessed I am that I can live on just my salary,” she said.  

Victoria works as a medical assistant at Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Beaverton. She remembers when she gathered a team to help her complete participation hours on a Habitat construction site before moving in. They were all so excited and happy for her.  

“I learned assertiveness with a hammer,” she said with a smile. “I didn’t know how to hammer in a nail before.” 

Victoria has reflected upon her own upbringing, one that was also filled with housing instability and moving from place to place. As she repeats to herself often, “it ends with us.” 

“I saw a lot of those patterns that I’m able to change today,” she said. “And by also working on my social anxiety and mental health, I’ve been able to heal in a way that I can’t begin to describe.” 

Keep Reading

Read More
Read More
Read More