April Nelson has never owned a home. In fact, she and her children briefly lived in a Grand Forks women’s shelter to escape a violent relationship. The Home Builders Care Build with Habitat will help provide some stability that has been lacking in their lives the past few years.
Originally from Warren, Minn., Nelson moved to Grand Forks, got married and had two children. Five years ago, she divorced her husband and became involved with an abusive man. The relationship spiraled out of control and into a regular pattern of domestic violence.
“We lived in a shelter in 2009, which was right before I moved to Moorhead. I either had to leave that relationship or lose my kids. Social services had been called because of the violence, and I didn’t want my kids in that anymore anyway,” she says.
Today, Nelson lives in a rented Moorhead townhome with daughter Brooke, age 10, and son Blake, age 6. She has been diagnosed with bi-polar disorder and depression, her daughter suffers from anxiety and her son has ADHD, anxiety and cerebral palsy. Nelson says some of the mental health issues are lingering after-effects of the domestic violence they suffered.
April Nelson with Brooke and Blake on the build site for their new home.
Nelson learned about Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity through Lakes & Prairie Community Action Partnership last year and sent in an application.“I never dreamed that they would actually call me!” she laughs.
But that’s exactly what happened. Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity called Nelson and the process for helping her achieve homeownership began early this year. Nelson has been working alongside members of the Home Builders Association of Fargo Moorhead, the Home Builder Care Foundation and volunteers from the community all summer to make her dream a reality. On Monday, September 24th at 5:30 pm Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity will dedicate the Nelson Family’s new home.
The home will be handicap-accessible to help accommodate her son’s disability. In a few years, doctors say he will be a candidate for surgery called dorsal rhizotomy to help increase elasticity in his legs, but the procedure will leave him wheelchair-bound for about one year.
“It is amazing. One of my biggest dreams has been to own my house. We have had to move so much. My daughter has been in five different schools,” she says. “I can’t wait to move in to my house!”
Like all families that partner with Habitat for Humanity, Nelson will not receive a “free” home, but instead will purchase the home with an interest-free loan to be repaid over the course of the mortgage. Nelson has contributed more than 250 “sweat equity” hours working on her home, the homes of others and in the Habitat ReStore as a requirement for becoming a Habitat homeowner. She is also required to attend 20 educational classes to learn about topics such as homeownership budgeting, home maintenance and home safety.
Nelson expresses thanks for the Habitat program, Home Builders Care Foundation and the HBA of F-M, “If it weren’t for the help from your members and Habitat, I would have never been able to buy a home. I would like to thank your members so much. This means the world to my kids and me.”
You’re invited to join the Nelson Family and Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity at the dedication.
When: Monday, September 24th at 5:30 pm
Where: Home Builders Care Home: 902 27th Street North, Fargo