Habitat Orlando & Osceola is celebrating 35 years of building homes and changing lives in Central Florida. In this special series, we’re checking in with longtime homeowners to see how owning their own Habitat home has had a ripple effect on their lives. Visit our 35th-anniversary page for more >

Linda has accomplished so much since becoming a Habitat for Humanity Greater Orlando & Osceola County homeowner nine years ago.

Homeownership with Habitat stabilized her life, leading her to earn a bachelor’s degree in bible and theology and become a deaconess in her church. She’s also the president of the community association and regularly distributes food boxes to needy single parents and nursing home residents.

“Anything I can do to help somebody,” she said. “Like Habitat says, ‘we don’t give you a handout, we give you a hand up.’”

Her homeownership journey

Linda saved her hammer, hard hat and apron from her days on the build site at Stag Horn Villas.

Before she was approved to purchase her home in Habitat’s Stag Horn Villas community, she was homeless and in rehab to overcome substance abuse.

When she was in rehab, Living Hope International Ministries helped her fill out her application for Habitat’s homeownership program and work through the process.

She worked hard to pay off some debts in collections and completed sweat equity hours by helping to build her future neighbors’ homes in Stag Horn Villas, a Habitat community in Orlando that features 58 energy-efficient, two-story townhomes.

“I changed the negative into the positive. I always thought I couldn’t get no home. Me? Get a home?” she said with a laugh.

She closed on her home in 2012. In her living room nine years later, she proudly displays her many Habitat artifacts: a scarf showcasing photos of her key ceremony, a hammer with chipped gold paint, an apron, and a hard hat with her name scrawled on a piece of duct tape.

She says that if it wasn’t for Habitat, today her “mind would have been off the chains” and she’d still be renting.

‘A beautiful community’

Two women smile at the camera

Linda laughs with Director of Program Services Liz Alicea-Madera on the day of her home dedication in 2012.

She got a home and a world of opportunity, and she also became part of a community of like-minded people. Building side by side with future homeowners, she said, formed bonds that have endured over the last decade.

“Habitat forms relationships, courtships, all sorts of ships,” she said, beaming. “We stick to each other like glue.”

People who are in unsafe or unstable living situations should set an intention to become a homeowner, even if it seems out of reach, she said.

“Never say never. If your intention is to be a homeowner… your intention is to get a positive, concrete lifestyle, check into Habitat.”

She can’t wait to celebrate 10 years in her home in 2022.

“I love my home to this day, and the mortgage and all that has been a blessing to me.”

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

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.