It isn’t every day a reporter from London stops by one of the most impoverished neighborhoods in all of Tucson.
But this one did.
Journalist Joshua Chaffin, of the Financial Times, spent nearly a week in Amphi, meeting residents, volunteers, Habitat homebuyers, and community members. He saw Minton Court develop day by day, met the neighborhood firsthand, even devoured a too-hot pepper from the Literacy Gardens.
And what he discovered in Amphi was Habitat building more than just houses. He saw how when we come together as a community, what we’re really building together is hope.
In the international piece Giving Hope: How to Help ‘Working Poor’ US families, Sherry Tilton’s story is the first one we hear.
She says, “I prayed for a house — not a house, exactly. But a place where I could be secure.” Her whole life, she’s dreamed of a place to call her home. And it’s always felt just out of reach. Her parents died when she was young, and much of her childhood Sherry was passed relative to relative, foster home to foster home. She endured homelessness and domestic abuse. And you would never know it, the way her smile lights up her face, the way she seems so effortlessly warm and humble.
“It’s such a blessing for someone like me,” she said in her interview. “Without Habitat, I’d pretty much die homeless.”
The article explores the rampant poverty, high renter rates, and transient populations in Amphi as well. It’s hard for a neighborhood to find its identity without places to put down permanent roots, without the investment of neighbors, community leaders, businesses, and schools. Even at Amphi high, there’s a staggering 45% turnover rate – meaning that teachers are meeting and saying goodbye to hundreds of new students a year. Building a community is a huge priority for everyone in Amphi.
That’s why the community garden, connected to Literacy Connects, and right beside the new Minton Court Habitat neighborhood, is such a triumph. It’s a place for people to come together as growers, learners, and neighbors. Every seed planted is a small gesture saying, “I’m here. Let’s thrive.”
One of the last stops of the journalist tour was Copper Vista – a beacon of what Amphi might one day look like.
There to greet journalist Joshua Chaffin was John Tabaruka – settled happily in his 4-bedroom Habitat home. John shared his story of coming from a refugee camp in Zimbabwe with his wife and 6 children, earning sweat equity and achieving his hard-won dream of a home of his own.
“To me, Habitat Tucson is a community,” said John. “And I am happy to be included in that community. Everybody is doing the same type of work and it invigorates me when I see other people doing the same hard work I do every day.”
And one day, he looks forward to celebrating with his extended Habitat family, flourishing in Amphi.