Homeownership

Military Veteran Becomes First-Time Homeowner Through Habitat Initiative

Spring Cambric broke down in tears as she stood surrounded by family and friends Saturday on the front porch of her new home on Richmond’s North Side.

Cambric, a Navy veteran who currently works at the entrance processing station at Fort Lee in Petersburg, Virginia, spent more than 200 hours working with other volunteers to rehab the house through Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build initiative. More than 100 local women volunteered on the project.

Now, after years of traveling and relocating with the military, Cambric and her four children have their first permanent home — a two-story, three-bedroom home in the Chestnut Hills neighborhood.

During a ceremony Saturday, Mary Kay Huss, chief executive officer of Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity, turned the keys over to Cambric and her family, drawing tears.

“I couldn’t have done anything without my family,” Cambric said. “My dad that was here, my mother, even my kids. None of this was possible without them.”

Her daughter, Kaila, also helped with the construction project. Ironically, Cambric and her family lived in the neighborhood before, but this time, they’ll truly have a place they can call theirs.

Through Habitat for Humanity’s Affordable Homeownership Program, Cambric completed 10 educational classes and participated in hundreds of volunteer hours to build her home and support other Habitat projects.

She had tried to buy a home previously but didn’t qualify for a traditional mortgage because her credit score was too low, officials said. But by participating in the Habitat program and providing “sweat equity” on rehabbing her new home and others, she now is purchasing the Habitat home with a no-interest mortgage.

“Every home we’ve lived in, there has always been love,” Cambric said. “But now we can use the word ‘ours.’ This is ‘ours.’ Now my kids can say, ‘I’m going to my mama’s house. This is my mama’s house.’ That’s what I wanted.”

What separates this project from typical Habitat homes is the crew of female volunteers that helped. According to Huss, more than 388 volunteers put in more than 2,000 hours since August 2019 to complete the home. Huss was among them and talked about her memory of demolition day early in the project.

“I had the distinct pleasure — and I’ll never forget this — of standing in the tub of one of the bathrooms with a sledgehammer taking down the ceramic tiling on the walls,” Huss said.

Also helping were AmeriCorps volunteers, including Benjamin Veillux, who instructed several volunteers during the process.

“It’s been a real pleasure to work with all the volunteers,” Veillux said. “I really enjoyed teaching people all the various things, whether it’s putting on trim, painting or siding. It’s just really fun to be out here.”

The obstacles were many for Cambric to reach the dedication ceremony last Saturday, from construction delays because of the COVID-19 pandemic to surgery on her leg earlier this year. But throughout those challenges, Cambric never lost sight of the goal — to be a homeowner.

“I have been chasing this dream for so long; to give my kids someplace that would make them feel balanced and safe; where the phrase ‘my house’ is the truth,” she said.

“I’m giving them the example that they can own their own homes if they work hard enough for it.”

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