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Categories: Habitat Happenings, Family Stories, Habitat Tucson

Building and believing for a better tomorrow: Lilybeth and Hiram

Lilybeth and Hiram met at church when they were 19 and 21, and Hiram now plays guitar in a worship band with his father and brother three times a week. When we asked them how they’d describe their family, the first thing that they said was, “We’re Christian.” Hiram and Lilybeth have lots of family in Tucson with whom they are very close.

They were living in an apartment that wasn’t very safe. Lilybeth describes, “There were lots of things wrong with it that were very stressful, and we had bed bugs, so I couldn’t even sleep well in my own home. It was sad. It honestly felt like we were going to stay in that apartment forever.”

Lilybeth and Hiram are committed to growth and establishing a permanent home for their family.

Lilybeth and Hiram started the search to buy a house but were in a tricky situation. Hiram is the primary breadwinner, but he was born in Sonora so he didn’t have credit. Lilybeth was born in Tucson, and is the primary caregiver, so she had some credit but didn’t have income.

To support his family’s goals, Hiram opened a bank account, started the process of becoming a permanent resident, and started working on his credit. Once they were ready to purchase a home together, they moved out of the apartment and into a two-bedroom trailer with Lilybeth’s mom and brother. They thought it was going to be temporary as they were about to close on one house, but that house ended up having problems that needed several thousands of dollars of repairs, which were beyond their budget.

They started their search over again from scratch, but by this point, the housing market was skyrocketing. The monthly mortgage payments shot out of their range, forcing them to into renting again. But they discovered that rental prices were up too- and first deposit requirements had grown steeper, a challenge for those who live paycheck to paycheck.

What started as a few months in an unsafe neighborhood, with six people splitting a two-bedroom trailer, became three years. Lilybeth says, “I keep telling myself, “I know God’s not going to leave us. He’s gonna be with us. But sometimes when you’re in that situation, it’s really hard to believe. It’s easier to say, ‘It’s never going to happen. Let’s just give up’. But it’s always in God’s time.”

Lilybeth confesses, “I didn’t think we would get accepted,”. When they found out they were going to become homeowners, Hiram says,

“It felt like seeing sunlight after everything we had been through.”

What are they most looking forward to? For Lilybeth, it’s having her own kitchen that she can cook in. Sharing a cramped space with so many people makes it difficult to buy her own groceries and cook meals. Plus, she says, “We can’t even be organized because there’s just no place to put anything.” Their daughters are looking forward to being able to play outside without worrying about safety.

Hiram says, “I only want us to be together, to have a place to spend time together. Sometimes you can have a house, you can have a nice car, you can have money, you can have everything, but you aren’t happy because happiness is not about having everything. Happiness is about knowing how to appreciate everything you have, the little things like my kid’s health, and the community. We have hope, and it’s God that gives us the opportunity to have a house and gives us this light and this hope. Whenever my family is together, we are home. But we’re finally going to have a house, and it is going to be so much more meaningful because we will be together in that house.”

In the long term, Hiram says, “Home is where our family can grow old. Where we can take care of our girls until they decide to move out or get married. And then once they’ve moved out, instead of saying, ‘Let’s go visit Mom and Dad,’ they can say, “Let’s go home.”

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