This article is in part of a series where we interviewed Santa Fe Habitat Families years after moving into their affordable homes to see where they are now and the impact homeownership has made in their lives!
About a decade ago, Anette Sena found herself in the same position as far too many in Santa Fe — unable to find affordable or suitable living arrangements for her and her family. As a single mom with four children, Anette bounced from apartment to apartment. Each time she found a stable living situation – life seemed to get in the way and for one reason or another, they moved on to the next apartment.
In her last apartment, Anette could hardly afford to pay her monthly electricity bill, which neared $350. Their apartment had mold and once the landlord was alerted, the issue was ignored for over a year. Anette’s daughter suffered from the mold due to bad allergies – she was constantly ill, visited the hospital frequently, and required expensive epi-pens to battle the inescapable allergens. The living situation was dire.
Exposure to damp and moldy environments may cause a variety of health effects. Various aspects of the built environment can have profound effects on both physical and mental health outcomes. Low-income communities are burdened with greater rates of disease, limited access to health care, and other health disparities. These health outcomes, compounded with distressing conditions can be detrimental to families.
In 2013, Anette was accepted into our homeownership program. Immediately upon moving into their new, mold-free home, Anette’s daughter’s health improved, and she no longer required medication. “It was just amazing. This house has given us peace,” said Anette. In addition to improved health outcomes, Anette’s monthly bills declined dramatically. Her electric bill is now $85 per month.
“There’s nothing like having a home for your kids as a single mom. When I was in apartments, I thought I’d never have a home. This house has helped me to feel happier at work and move up in my job. I’m a nanny at night and a caregiver on the weekends for the elderly and disabled,” said Anette, who keeps a framed picture in her living room of her family in front of their house. This gift from Habitat reminds her of the work that went into it and her gratitude for her house.
Anette and her family have lived in their Habitat home for eight years. Looking back, Anette appreciates the stability that a nice, safe home offers. “Living all over the place and dealing with mold and high bills… we were hurting bad and living from check to check. It was difficult. This house has affordable utilities, payments, and everyone has their own bedrooms. It has given us great happiness,” said Anette.
The house will always belong to the Sena family as a haven for Anette’s children and grandchildren.