Thankful for a chance to move into new homes

Mike Finney | Milford Beacon | November 25, 2014

Paula Puello in front of her new home

Paula Puello and her 5-year-old son, Yosuel, enjoy the view from the front porch of the new house in Milford. Photo Credit: Mike Finney, Milford Beacon

Paula Puello and Chrishona Reeves are both expecting to have their best Thanksgiving ever on Thursday.
That’s because both women will be enjoying this holiday season in brand new homes off Sharps Road in southeast Milford.

The new neighbors moved into their new houses last week after completing the Self-Help Housing Program offered by the Milford Housing Development Corporation (MHDC).

“This is such a dream come true,” Puello said. “This is more than I could ask …To be able to move in my new house before Thanksgiving, it’s like, wow, I still can’t believe it.”

It took a lot of hard work for Puello and Reeves to get to this point.

For 14 months, they and their families contributed about 65 percent of the construction labor on their homes and three others in Dagsboro, Seaford and Georgetown.

Puello and Reeves both helped with things such as framing, putting in floors and painting with their work group, under supervision from the MHDC. However, some of the work did have to be contracted out, such as electric, plumbing and HVAC services

“We worked on everything from the foundation on up – painting, putting in windows and doors, really a little bit of everything,” Reeves said. “It was a great learning experience, because now, if something breaks, we’ll be able to fix it.”

Officials from MHDC said the families’ efforts generated more than $32,000 in “sweat equity” per home. All the families committed to work nights and weekends – roughly 1,500 hours.

Ashley Hoban, who is in charge of the Self-Help Housing Program for MHDC, said she loves watching people like Reeves and Puello move into new homes that they helped to create.

“There is no greater reward than walking alongside a family who has worked so hard to achieve the American Dream,” Hoban said. “Regardless of how many participants I have worked with through our Self-Help Housing Program, I’m so proud of each of them and the emotions are very high on ‘move-in’ day. Their faces light up the sky.”

Puello, a financial coach for Telamon Headstart, said all the hard work was definitely worth it, “I’m the first one in my whole family to own a house,” she said. “That includes my mother, my father, my brother, my sister … I’m the first one. And I’m very excited.”

Puello pointed out that USDA Rural Development partners with MHDC to offer affordable interest rates and mortgage payments to modest income applicants.

Reeves, who moved into her new home with her boyfriend and her 7-month-old baby, said she’s ready to fill the house with some enticing aromas come Thursday.

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