Rebekah’s fixer-upper now a point of pride in her neighborhood 

Rebekah, a homeowner in Northeast Portland, sipped cool water under the shade of a tree in her yard, waving to neighbors walking their dogs and inhaling the sweet aroma of freshly bloomed white and pink roses growing in her garden.  

Life only recently became this blissful for Rebekah and her daughter. The two of them have lived in this house for the past 21 years.  

Beginning in 2010, a string of bad luck in the mother and daughter’s lives coincided with successive leaks in their home. When Rebekah would fix one leak, another would show up in a different room of the house.  

For this family, the adage rings true: when it rains, it pours.  

“It became overwhelming because we just went through really hard times,” Rebekah said.  

Thirteen years ago, Rebekah became very sick and had to take some time off work. When she finally returned to her job, she fell and broke three bones in her ankle, an injury that took several months to heal. Her daughter, a senior in high school at the time, cared for her mom as she completed her classes and senior project.  

The basic maintenance work Rebekah had been performing on the house came to a halt while she was injured.  

“It was just not going to be done,” she said. “I had to just survive.” 

Less than two years later, Rebekah badly injured her shoulder in a car accident and could hardly lift her arms. With the insurance she had, she was unable to get surgery for six months.  

Soon after that, her daughter was diagnosed with cancer. The pair spent almost a year at Oregon Health and Science University, and the last thing on Rebekah’s mind was the leaks in her home.  

By the time Rebekah and her daughter were both feeling better, and they were ready to tackle their home maintenance, the issues had gotten so bad that it was far more than they could afford to fix.  

“It had mushroomed; it got worse,” Rebekah remembered. “You have no idea how much stress I was under worrying about how bad it was getting.” 

Time and time again, she tried and failed to receive a loan to get the work done. Once the pandemic hit, Rebekah and her daughter’s incomes spiraled, and they were back to square one.  

“Then, it’s like the world opened up,” Rebekah remembered with a smile.  

Rebekah stands proudly in front of her new roof from Habitat’s Home Repair Program.

As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, she was able to get some help from the Native American Youth and Family Center, or NAYA. Through her contacts at NAYA, she received a few grants to fix leaks and other things in her home that had overwhelmed her for so many years.  

One of the many broken elements of Rebekah’s home was the roof, where the flashing had been leaking for quite some time and destroying the walls in her hallway. Her online research led her to Habitat’s Home Repair Program.  

Habitat not only fixed the roof but modernized it as well. Rebekah said just looking at the top of her house from the street makes her happy. Soon, the inside of the house will match the appeal of the outside. She cannot wait to pick out cabinets, bathroom fixtures, furniture, and paint for the smooth new walls. 

And with the mold cleaned out of the home. Rebekah’s allergies no longer keep her awake at night. 

“I’m just so grateful for it,” she said. “They did a good job and were respectful and kind. I’m just happy it’s done.” 

Even after all Rebekah has gone through with her property, she loves living in her neighborhood and wants to stay in her home as she ages. And while she used to feel insecure about the exterior of her home, now it’s one of the things she’s most proud of.  

Rebekah emphasized how much it meant to be able to steer her family away from intergenerational poverty. The last thing she wanted was to pass the financial burden of an unstable house onto her daughter. Thanks to the Habitat Home Repair Program, and the other grants she received to fix up the home, she can breathe a sigh of relief.  

“I don’t want to leave a burden for my daughter,” she said. “Now I don’t have to.”  

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