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January 6, 2023

Meet Future Habitat Homeowner, Nikale!

By Alexa Johnson

About Nikale

Nikale is a Charlotte native currently living in east Charlotte with her mother and her 13-year-old son, Liam. Nikale is a single parent, has worked as an educator for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools for 22 years, and is currently pursuing a degree in elementary education. In her free time, she enjoys crafting, reading, cooking, gardening, singing, taking Liam to the arcade, and spending time with family and friends.

The last few years have been filled with adversity for Nikale’s family. Her father passed away in 2014, causing her family to relocate to their current home in Windsor Park the following year. Rent has risen steadily, and the landlord continues to increase maintenance fees while letting the home fall into disrepair. The roof leaks, paint is peeling throughout the house, and the doors and windows are not sealed properly, which has forced her to add pest control to her expenses and pay a higher heating and cooling bill. “If it were not for my mother being in the household with me, there would be no way that I could pay for the rising cost of housing and other living expenses,” Nikale said. On top of the maintenance problems, the landlord lives directly next door and has taken issue with how the family was using their outdoor space. Nikale no longer gardens in her backyard or invites family over for gatherings, and Liam no longer feels comfortable playing outside. Despite these issues, the family could not afford to move.

Then, in 2018, Nikale’s oldest son, Dorian, passed away tragically in a car accident at the age of 18. In the wake of her family’s grief over the loss of her son, Nikale knew it was time for a change. “I am attempting to get my life back after enduring the worst pain imaginable,” she explained.

Nikale’s Habitat Journey

Nikale was encouraged to apply to Habitat’s homeownership program by a former co-worker who had been through the program. She initially applied in June 2021 but was declined due to credit issues. However, Nikale did not give up, and she enrolled in the Money Matters Financial Literacy program in July 2021. After going through Money Matters and working hard to improve her financial situation, she reapplied to the program in January 2022 and was accepted. “My prayer is that through Habitat, my family will be able to secure safe, clean, affordable housing that will allow me to be self-sufficient and create generational wealth for Liam,” she said. “We need a safe place to grow and heal.”

So far, Nikale’s favorite part of the homeownership process has been volunteering at Habitat events to earn her homeowner-in-process (HIP) hours. She is extremely passionate about educating others about Habitat’s programs and sharing about her journey and experience, and she loves having the opportunity to engage with the community.

With homeownership in sight, Nikale is incredibly hopeful for the future. “I envision my new home as one filled with love, happiness, and new memories,” she said. She hopes her new home will be a place where her mother can retire, where Liam can have the freedom to be a kid, where her family can visit and gather, and where the memory of Dorian can be honored. “Our future home will be both our sanctuary and our peace,” she said.

Liam is most excited to have a home that he will not have to leave, and Nikale is looking forward to truly enjoying her space. “I miss the beauty of being able to sit outside with my family and enjoy nature. I cannot wait to have that freedom back,” she said. Additionally, an affordable mortgage will allow Nikale to save for the future and have new experiences with her family. Homeownership will not only create financial security for herself, but for Liam as well. “Owning our home is an opportunity for hope and a future.”

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