Knetha has always wanted to provide a safe home for her sons, 21-year-old Jamarieae who has cerebral palsy and 19-year-old Ricardo. That’s why she was overjoyed to partner with Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County to purchase a home, with custom accessibility features, that truly fits into her budget.
Having cerebral palsy means that Jamarieae has impairments in his ability to move and maintain his balance and posture. Additionally, this lifelong condition makes it difficult for him to communicate with others.
“Jamarieae is really excited to have his own room because he has always shared a room with his brother up until this point,” Knetha said. “With the extra space, we’ll be able to get a reclining chair, which will help make him more comfortable.”
Knetha also can’t think of anyone more deserving than Ricardo to have his own space. Throughout his childhood, Ricardo endured bullies who relentlessly mocked his brother’s disability.
“We had to overcome some of the limitations of having an extra special person in our family. We have been asked to leave places because Jamarieae was a little overexcited. Although things are not as simple for us as some families, we remain happy and show each other unconditional love. As a team, we champion through those obstacles,” Knetha said.
Attaining a longtime goal
For years, Knetha was discouraged as she had to pay high rents for an apartment where they couldn’t safely maneuver Jamarieae’s wheelchair. Even though they had a hydraulic lift, it was too big for the apartment, so they had to manually lift him through the narrow hallway and in and out of the bedroom and bathroom.
“It’s frustrating to feel like you don’t have a choice of where you can live and knowing that you can never get what you need,” Knetha said. She tried to look for a house to purchase through the more traditional route but found that they were either too expensive or not accessible for Jamarieae.
After learning about Habitat Orlando & Osceola, Knetha knew that this was the best path toward achieving her goal of having a home for her family. She says that when her homeownership program application was approved, it was the first time she felt hopeful that she could attain something she has always dreamed of.
Knetha is grateful for the HabitatU classes – a required part of the homeownership program that taught her how to keep her investment and maintain it for many years to come.
“I learned a lot in the home improvement classes and how I can do some things myself that need to be taken care of around the house,” Knetha said. “The financial literacy classes reiterated the importance of budgeting to keep track of my spending and how to make sure that I pay down credit cards to reduce those high-interest rates.”
A home that will always be a safe place
Now, the family can live in an accessible home that allows Jamarieae to move more freely. Their home in Habitat Orlando & Osceola’s Silver Pines Pointe subdivision includes a shower with grab bars instead of a bathtub and widened hallways and room entries that are wheelchair accessible. The front door is a zero-step entry, already a standard feature in each of our homes.
The family’s new home is also Florida Green Building Coalition certified and equipped with a weather resilient roof and windows, energy-efficient appliances, and a home security system.
Knetha is looking forward to the feeling of community that Silver Pines will provide her family.
“My goal is to make this house my home,” Knetha said. “I will have constant neighbors versus when you are in an apartment where people move in and out on a regular basis. I will be able to build strong relationships with my neighbors. I look forward to finding common interests and goals and working on building a community together.”
For Knetha and her sons, a two-decades-long wait for safe and stable housing is finally over.
“This has been a long time in the making for me,” she said. “Even though I wish my sons could have had this home when they were younger, I’m happy that I can provide this for them now. They will always have a safe place that they can come back to.”
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