A Home on Hermes Street

Tyrone Morgan was one of the first people to pick a lot on Hermes Street.

“There was only one house being built out there, and it was on the opposite side of the street,” said Tyrone. “The street was blank. I thought I’d be all by myself.”

He chose Hermes Street because it was a familiar area near a major bus route, grocery stores, good schools, and family.

“I could literally walk three blocks to my mom’s house,” he said. “I know a lot of people already in the neighborhood.”

Two years later, he has seen eight new Habitat homes built on his block. The neighborhood was made possible because of a generous donation of land from the Lupo family. The lots they owned in New Orleans East included the sites of the first Women Build and the second Unity Build. Their gift has transformed empty space into a thriving neighborhood and provided 14 families and individuals with the opportunity for affordable homeownership, including Tyrone’s.

“It’s fun living next to [the other Habitat homebuyers],” he said. “We’re so up on it. We text each other, ‘hey there’s a guy out there.’ We watch out for each other. Make sure they’re all right.”

His new home has brought Tyrone independence, self-reliance, stability, and privacy that he never had before.

“I don’t have to hear neighbors banging on the walls next door,” he said. “Or hear their smoke detector’s going off, and I’m thinking this double’s gonna burn down. There’s no rodents and termites. I wanted my own personal space. I wanted to put Christmas lights on my house. I leave a Christmas tree up all year and decorate it for every holiday. And central air, that’s amazing. No more window units, no more shotguns.”

Homeownership also means a step up from unfavorable living conditions forced upon partner families by high rental rates and substandard housing options. For Tyrone, it means no more overcrowding.

“My kids love it,” he said. “When we first moved in, they thought they still had to share a room with us. We had to leave them in their room and tell them, ‘Spend the night here. It’s okay.’”

He has already customized their rooms: “I had to mix glitter in the paint for my daughter so her wall could glitter when the light comes on. She was already writing on the walls. I don’t mind. It’s her wall. I got all the Paw Patrol stickers all over for my son. I got a dog for my kids. I got a big yard for them.”

Being able to provide better for his children and finding stability has given Tyrone more than just a better home: “I’m confident,” said Tyrone. “I feel like an adult. I feel like a man. That’s a good feeling.”

What Homes Means to Hermes Street

“In times of my life, there were moments where home was not a guaranteed ‘thing.’ My father tried but struggled to keep his family in a safe and secure environment and home. These early memories made a lasting impression because our constant move from home to home gave me a feeling of insecurity and the knowledge of what I wanted and did not want for myself in the future.” – Rashad Magee, Pat O’s Kitchen Staff

“Becoming a homeowner has always been a major goal for me to accomplish because it would be something to pass on to my children.” –Niquia Hayward, Service Industry

“I felt like I won the lottery. I moved in the same day I closed. I moved everything in that same day. I didn’t wanna hesitate, didn’t wait. The house is mine. They can’t put me out of it.” –Michelle McDaniel, Parks and Parkways

“I could leave this house to my kids. All that means something to me. To get them a little head start. I saw my parents struggle, so I’m trying to make that better for them. Keep it in the family. You know how people say a false sense of security? This is a good sense of security for me. As long as my mortgage is paid, I’m happy to be home.” –Tyrone Morgan, Convention Center Staff

“All my hopes and dreams have come to light. After it’s all said and done, my son and I will have a place of our own, to call our own.” – Vicki Griffiths, Nursing Home Employee

“I have been through so much in the last few years—from sleeping in the streets to crashing family members and friends’ homes. ‘Having a roof over my head, without it being my own,’ went through my head even in my dreams.” –Leonard Price, Parks and Parkways