Homeowner Profile: Tonya VanBuren

Tonya and her 3 year old son, Ryan, in Habitat For Humanity's Montegut Street home on November 6, 2016, in New Orleans, LA. (Erika Goldring Photo)

“One of the most important reasons I want to be a homeowner is my son,” Tonya VanBuren said. “I want to make a comfortable home for him. He’s getting older. He can’t sleep in the same room as me in our 1-bedroom apartment forever. Looking around for a decent 2-bedroom apartment, it’s very expensive. I couldn’t afford it, which means I’d have to move back to public housing. Some of the stuff I’ve seen growing up there, I don’t want [Ryan] around it.”

Tonya grew up in a violent time and place, and she has worked hard to build a better life for herself and her son. Through NOAHH’s homeownership program, she now has a chance to build a new home for herself with room for her son to grow up where he can be safe. Her new Habitat home will be a 3-bedroom house in a new, growing community around America Street, where over 50 new Habitat homes have been built.

Tonya and her 3 year old son, Ryan, in Habitat For Humanity's Montegut Street home on November 6, 2016, in New Orleans, LA. (Erika Goldring Photo)

“Especially with having to work toward homeownership with Habitat,” she said, “you appreciate it more and take better care. Being around people of that caliber is good for him.”

Like many Habitat homeowners, Tonya takes pride in “getting a job done,” and despite facing obstacles in her journey, she has found it meaningful to take part in building her future.

“It’s sometimes hard for me because I have a kid, and I work full-time,” she said, “and I’m going to school, and I’m a single mother, but that makes it much more worth it. Getting it done–completing the program–makes me feel really good. It makes me excited for what I’m working for. I’m learning a lot along the way about what I can do and what not to do with my home to help me and my kid.”

Tonya and her 3 year old son, Ryan, in Habitat For Humanity's Montegut Street home on November 6, 2016, in New Orleans, LA. (Erika Goldring Photo)

With your financial support, Tonya and her son and families like theirs can find more than decent, affordable shelter through our program. They will findĀ homes.

“Home means family,” she said. “Stability. Comfort, love, and happiness. It means the excitement of coming home to something of your own, that you worked towards, and you can say ‘it’s mine.’ It’s a good feeling for me at my young age. A lot of my older family members and friends are still renting, and they’re tired of the process and moving around. It makes me feel good doing this for me and my son, and it only gets better from here.”

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