Habitat Dallas Changes Lives

Bank of America partnership promotes homeownership, pride

What’s Nekemia Brown’s favorite space in the Habitat for Humanity home she bought in 2020?

Nekemia Brown and her daughter. (Photo: Courtesy Nekemia Brown)

“My closet, because I have a lot of shoes,” she told representatives of Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity in July of that year as she stood outside with a rental moving truck in her new driveway.

“For me, owning a home, it makes me feel more family-oriented,” she said, holding the flowers they brought. “I can relax and spend family time with my daughters and my dogs.”

The Browns and nine other families can credit, in part, their houses to a 20-year-old partnership between the Dallas Area Habitat for Humanity and Bank of America Dallas.

“Bank of America has been especially meaningful to us because they’ve graciously given to Habitat’s mission for two decades,” said Dallas Habitat CEO Dave Crawford. “This type of commitment of an entire organization of people has allowed us to make real progress in transforming lives and communities in Dallas/Fort Worth.”

While sponsoring the 10 Habitat home builds, the bank has provided countless hours of HUD-certified financial education courses to hundreds of Dallas families, nearly 12,000 volunteer hours, and more than $750,000 to the agency.

“It has been an honor to work with Habitat to advance economic mobility in our community through financial literacy education and advance our shared mission of increasing access to affordable housing,” said bank president Jennifer Chandler. “And we look forward to our continued partnership.”

Dallas Habitat serves families making between 25% and 60% of the area’s median income who demonstrate need, ability to pay, and willingness to partner with the agency, according to dallasareahabitat.org.

Partnering includes taking advantage of Habitat’s educational programs that cover such topics as finances, budgeting, and home maintenance. Clients also contribute “sweat equity” to the construction of their homes and the homes of their neighbors.

The model allows Habitat to guarantee mortgage payments won’t exceed 30% of a family’s monthly income at the time of closing.

Brown managed to complete that project during the pandemic and thanked Habitat leaders and volunteers for that. “You were always rooting for me.”

She described homeownership as life-changing for her family. It has allowed them to host New Year’s with loved ones, dedicate space for exercise, and plant a flower garden – all in the West Dallas neighborhood where she grew up.

“It means so much for me to grow up in this neighborhood and to see how much you guys invest to make it safer, nicer,” she told her friends from Dallas Habitat. “To me, it changed some of the people who live in the neighborhood because it makes it calmer.”

William Taylor

William Taylor, editor of Park Cities People and Preston Hollow People, shares a name and a birthday with his dad and a love for community journalism with his colleagues at People Newspapers. He joined the staff in 2016 after more than 25 years working for daily newspapers in such places as Alexandria, Louisiana; Baton Rouge; McKinney; San Angelo; and Sherman, though not in anywhere near that order. A city manager once told him that “city government is the best government” because of its potential to improve the lives of its residents. William still enjoys covering municipal government and many other topics. Follow him on Twitter @Seminarydropout. He apologizes in advance to the Joneses for any angry Tweets that might slip out about the Dallas Cowboys during the NFL season. You also can reach him at [email protected]. For the latest news, click here to sign up for our newsletter.

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