The Treadwell Family’s Journey to Homeownership

[Blog by Sophia Williams, Development Associate, Special Events & Marketing]

The Treadwell family is busy with the start of the school year, but this time around something is a little different – they have a place to call home. On June, 30, 2016, Najma and Melvin Treadwell closed on their Habitat home, just before their four children started the school year.  They are loving what comes with growing up in a neighborhood. It’s the simple, everyday life of homeownership that is so meaningful.

“My son can practice basketball for however long he wants, for however many hours. He can just come out here and shoot the basket without rolling his hoop out every time. The basketball hoop gets to just stay,” said Najma.

Najma and Melvin were unsure at first about applying to Habitat. Like many other families they did not know about the work Habitat does or that the Habitat homes are 40% more energy efficient than a new home built to code today.

“I thought it was a program where you got a broken down home for people who don’t work. When I came to the Washtenaw Housing Education Partners session and got more information about it, we found out this wasn’t true,” Najma continued. “We got into the program and everything skyrocketed. Everything took us by surprise, we didn’t think we would be closing on our own home.”

Each family that goes through our Homeownership Program are required to put in 250 sweat equity hours. This includes classes on home maintenance and repair, a homeownership legal workshop, work on exterior projects, volunteering at the ReStore and construction hours on their or another families soon-to-be Habitat home.

“I thought no way were we going to be able to put in 250 hours of sweat equity with four children. This just didn’t seem possible,” said Najma.

The Treadwells were determined and wouldn’t let this get in the way of giving their children a safe, stable neighborhood to grow up in. Studies show that homeownership allows children to do better in school, often go on to a higher level of education than their parents and even end up purchasing a home themselves one day.

“It was really intense, I won’t lie. There were many days where I thought maybe we aren’t cut out for this and maybe we can’t do it,” Najma continued. “It was well worth it. We are in a beautiful quiet neighborhood.”

Before their journey, Najma and Melvin were looking forward to watching their children play in their own yard. Now they are able to enjoy their family without having to worry about the traffic on the street or if it is too late for it to be safe outside. Their children even have a playroom in the basement where they have a table dedicated to puzzles and games. Before they weren’t able to always finish a puzzle since they were using the kitchen table and it had to be cleared before dinner time. Now they have a room dedicated to playing as they learn and grow.

“I’m happy for our family. No more drama of going to the leasing office. It’s going to be great to have my own room,” said Jaheem, the Treadwell’s 12-year-old and oldest son.

Jahemm and Jashua, 6 years old, both attend Keystone Academy. Jah’Niya, 5, is in her first year of kindergarten. She is in the Spanish Immersion Program at Bishop where the language of the classroom is Spanish. This is where she learns her curriculum and activities while the teachers speak to the class in Spanish, so that she can one day be fluent in the language. Jahn, 2, is the Treadwell’s youngest and is homeschooled by Najma in preparation to grade school.

“This house is everything we prayed for. Habitat just makes you feel, I don’t even know how to say it, it’s like you really care. You don’t get rushed into a house, Habitat really cares about your well-being. The other Habitat families are there to cheer you on and encourage you along the way,” Najma said.

Through all of this, these new homeowners have become a part of our Habitat family. We are so happy that this active, sports loving family will have a safe and stable place to come home to each night. Congratulations, Najma and Melvin!


Habitat Starts Work in Sugarbrook

[Blog by Sarah Teare, Community Development Director]

Habitat is expanding its Neighborhood Revitalization activities to the Sugarbrook neighborhood in Ypsilanti Township! After having success working in the Gault Village and West Willow neighborhoods, we are now joining forces with Sugarbrook residents and community partners to bring strength, stability and self-reliance to this neighborhood.

The first outwardly visible sign of this work took place on Saturday, September 24 when Habitat partnered with Altisource to perform Exterior Home Improvement projects on three homes in the neighborhood. Altisource awarded $200,000 to support more than 116 revitalization projects in seven communities across the United States to help homeowners continue to live in safe, decent, and affordable homes for years to come. $31,500 of that financial support came to Habitat Huron Valley and is being used on 21 Exterior Home Improvement projects here in Washtenaw County. The three Sugarbrook projects were our first in that neighborhood, and Altisource employees from their Southfield, MI office joined with us on Saturday to kick-off this work in Sugarbrook.


Exterior Home Improvements include activities such as installing gutter guards, sealing foundations, installing downspout extensions and splash blocks, landscaping and yard clean-up, minor painting, and other minor repairs. In addition to the exterior improvements, Habitat is also replacing old furnaces in these families’ homes with new, energy-efficient ones with programmable thermostats. This will reduce homeowners’ utility bills and provide a safer, healthier home and a more comfortable winter. Thrivent Financial is also providing funding and volunteers for Exterior Home Improvements this year through their Thrivent Builds repair program. They have partnered with us on repair projects since 2010, and we are thrilled to continue working with them!

Our Sugarbrook Community Development Coordinator, Mike Randall, will be hands-on in the community, working to connect the neighborhood with the resources to help them thrive. He is currently mobilizing residents, community leaders and stakeholders to form a steering committee which will form the direction of what neighborhood revitalization means to Sugarbrook. The next step will be a Community Visioning Meeting to be held this fall where residents and partners can share what they love about Sugarbrook and what they would like to see to make it an even better place in which to live.

Thank you to Altisource and Thrivent for providing funding and volunteers for exterior home improvement projects and allowing us to bring neighborhood revitalization to Sugarbrook. It is because of dedicated partners like them that we are able to go even further in our mission of providing a legacy of homeownership to low-income families.