COLORADO SPRINGS — The joy of owning your own home has always been a part of the American dream. But in an economy where it is harder and harder to qualify for a loan, let alone afford a mortgage, every little bit helps.
For local Army veteran Karmen Allen, a single mother of two, and after a long struggle to find a permanent home, her dream has become a reality thanks to Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity.
On Saturday, July 8th, it was Independence Day for Karmen Allen, a housewarming like no other, the whole neighborhood showed up including those who helped build her dream home in a neighborhood, The Ridge at Sand Creek, in southeast Colorado Springs.
A beautiful one-level, three-bedroom, one-bath walkout, the fourth Veterans Build Home as it's called through Habitat for Humanity, Karmen told me, "Its exciting because you're done, you finished, you're here, there's nothing that's going to stop you, you made it this far and it's just exciting to see your neighbors come and support you."
The third time is the charm for Karmen who finally qualified for this beautiful home, denied two other times by Habitat. Candidates must be a first time homeowner who can prove they need affordable housing, their credit rating and debt to income ratio must meet Habitat's qualifying level, they must have at least two years of consistent employment, they must undergo a family selection committee review and approval and finally some good old sweat equity.
Karmen explained that process to me, "So you do 200 hours and you can basically do as much as you want, its all up to you they let you do limited stuff and most of it's at the construction site, so 150 hours has to be at the construction site here."
This is a dream come true for this single mother of two young boys who have lived through homelessness and has to settle for public housing because that is all she could ever afford. So, helping build your own home, a little caulking, painting, digging, and some roof work, she says it's gratifying, motivating, satisfying, "It's exciting because you get to see your house build up from the ground up so you've been here from the ground up all the way up to the top, you can choose your own paints, coloring when it comes together."
And it is coming together in ways she never could have imagined, "Each and every step takes some time to do so you get all nervous and once you're selected, I was so happy and proud that we made it this far."
The relationship continues with Habitat after you move in, they provide the tools and the techniques needed to maintain and manage their homes moving forward. Volunteers are an invaluable resource for the organization, accounting for about ninety percent of every home they build under the supervision of professional construction staff.
The neighborhood where Karmen now lives will eventually include 30 Pikes Peak Habitat for Humanity homes.