Habitat Berks Future Homeowners Find Hope During Coronavirus Crisis

Two hard-working single moms with plans for the future found their hopes in danger when they were both laid off from their employers due to the coronavirus.

Both Yahaira and Annalia are working towards a home they will purchase through Habitat for Humanity of Berks County’s first time homeowner program. Both have logged in their sweat equity hours and are saving money while they wait for the construction of their home to be complete.

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When they were laid off from their respective employers, they thought they could depend on unemployment along with the extra $600 a week.

“To this day, I still haven’t received any payment,” Yahaira said. Annalia finally received a first payment of less than $350 from unemployment in late April.

“I always thought as long as I am a good worker and went to work, I would always have a job. I was terrified that I would lose my apartment and my son and I would become homeless due to the cornoa virus,” Annalia explained. “I did not know what to do or where to turn.”

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The 1K Project is providing some relief for both of these families.

The 1K project is a grass-roots effort to connect families in need with potential sponsors who are willing to help by giving them $1,000 a month for three months. It works through trusted connections. Families must be referred to the project through family, friends or employers and sponsors are also networked closely to the founders of the 1K project.

Created by a group of volunteers led by Alex Iskold of New York, NYand Minda Brusse of Seattle, WA, the effort began with a Twitter poll asking how many people would be willing to step up and directly help families impacted by the pandemic.

“I was overwhelmed to see that so many people would be willing to step up and help,” said Alex in a recent blog post.

When Habitat for Humanity of Berks County Executive Director, Tim Daley, was told of the program through a personal friend of Alex, he told his staff about it right away.

“I knew this could be a good way to help the families working through the Habitat program,” Daley said. “This is a time for uncertainty for everyone and we knew our families would be facing some economic challenges.”

Director of Family Services, Eneida Powell was glad to see this possible resource for both current and potential homeowners. When the crisis began, Powell got to work contacting current Habitat homeowners and those working towards a home.

“When the homeowners tell me they are struggling, I connect them to community resources, and have referred several to the 1K project,” Powell said. She explained further the obstacles those working towards a home are facing.

“The construction of the homes that they are working towards has been delayed,” Powell explained. “Not only that, the loss of income will affect their mortgage eligibility and difficulty paying bills could affect their credit score.”

For Annalia, some hope has returned. “Thank you for referring me to the 1K Project. I really appreciate (Habitat Berks) for everything you have helped me with already. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she said.

Yahaira has since returned to work. “My company applied to be considered essential and was approved,” Yahaira said.

This grant will help Yahaira and Annalia get through the next few months.

“Just two days ago I thought I was going to have to use the money (I’m saving) for the house on the bills . . . and then I received the text that they found a sponsor for us,” Yahaira explained. “I’m happy and very grateful.”

“I am glad that there are people in this world that care about others they never even met,” said Annalia.

For more information about the 1K Project, go to www.1kproject.org. For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Berks County, go to www.habitatberks.org.

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