Jaquira loves to watch her daughters play hide-and-go-seek in their new home.

Their cramped apartment didn’t have good hiding spots, not to mention, that the complex was overrun with ants, illegal drug activity, and “too much negative energy”.

On top of these unsafe living conditions, more than 30% of her paycheck was going toward rent. Many families in Central Florida have such a strain on their budget that they often make tradeoffs between paying for rent or getting healthy groceries.

Jaquira’s two eldest daughters watch TV in the eldest’s room on a recent Saturday morning. Photo by Jacques Durand.

In January 2022, she closed on her energy-efficient four-bedroom, two-bathroom house with an affordable mortgage in Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County’s Juniper Bend community.

“I just keep smiling,” the pharmacy technician, business student, and single mother said.

Juniper Bend, in south Apopka, is Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s fourth community, featuring 10 homes. The subdivision was completed in early 2022 and was a unique public/private partnership among Habitat Orlando & Osceola, Orange County Government, Homes in Partnership, Inc., and Habitat for Humanity Seminole-Apopka.

Jaquira says her children and faith in God inspired her to become a homeowner by the time she turned 30. She achieved her goal six months early – she just celebrated her 30th birthday in her new home in July.

Jaquira also moved into her home just in time to welcome her newborn daughter into the family.

“I wanted to get something better than these apartments,” she said of her growing family. “I wanted us to live peacefully.”

She said her three daughters will most enjoy having the privacy of their own rooms to play and sleep in.

Applying to Habitat

Jaquira in her kitchen with her three daughters. Photo by Jacques Durand.

Before she took the time to do more research about Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s homeownership program, she didn’t think it was for people like her.

“I thought at first it was a bad thing to apply to this kind of home,” she said. “I thought there was a negative stigma, but there’s really not.”

Habitat Orlando & Osceola helps make the “American Dream” of homeownership become a reality for hardworking families. In addition to monthly mortgage payments, homeowners invest volunteer hours, known as “sweat equity”, on the build site and through homebuyer education classes. The ability to provide affordable mortgages are made possible by grants and donations from individuals, corporations, foundations, and public entities.

After her mother encouraged her to apply, she did some research and liked what she saw. She was denied the first time she applied due to a couple of missing documents. The second time, she was accepted.

“It’s been a great experience to go through. They made my dream come true,” she said.

Building futures

Jaquira prepares food with her middle daughter. Photo by Jacques Durand.

Homeownership has a positive, rippling effect on reducing crime rates, increasing neighborhood stability, building wealth, and impacting overall economic growth and prosperity.

Now that Jaquira has the safety and security of her new home with a predictable monthly mortgage payment, she looks forward to building her and her children’s futures. She’s working toward a degree in business and is excited to become an entrepreneur.

She knows her accomplishments will inspire her young daughters to follow in her footsteps.

“Homeownership will change my family’s life,” she said.

Support Us: You can help more local families experience the peace and freedom of owning an affordable home. When you donate to Habitat Orlando & Osceola, every dollar helps us build homes and work toward a world where everyone has a safe and affordable place to live. You can impact lives through homeownership; please give today.

Apply for Homeownership: Habitat Orlando & Osceola offers energy-efficient three- or four-bedroom homes, customizable options and affordable mortgages. Learn more and apply >>