Dawnette Dixon finally has her own home and even a backyard, fixed up by none other than a former president.
Habitat for Humanity acquired five New York City Housing Authority (NCYHA) homes in the borough that were abandoned, boarded up and a “blight” in the community. One of those homes was on 112th Road in Jamaica, which was vacant for roughly two decades. It is also the home Dixon, her son and daughter will be moving into early next year.
“We said to the city, we’ll turn [the homes] around,” said Neil Hetherington, CEO of Habitat for Humanity NYC.
Hetherington and the Habitat team hosted the 30th Annual Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter Work Project to build and repair homes citywide. President Carter, 89, and his wife have been working with the group for almost 30 years, and the Jamaica home was part of a country-wide tour fixing houses.
Carter worked the power tools and his wife moved slabs of wood, all part of constructing a new deck for the Dixons. Hundreds of volunteers and the Dixons themselves worked on the new house. Construction is estimated to be complete in six to eight weeks.
As well as cleaning up the once-vacant home, Habitat for Humanity makes upkeep for the home affordable for people like Dixon, 53, who works for the Department of Health. They receive government grants and state mortgages which can make living affordable in the long haul.
“Now they have the pride and dignity associated with not only building their home, but paying for their home,” Hetherington said. “It’s helping in a dignified way.”
Dixon, who lived in Brooklyn for most of her life, “can’t explain how excited” she is. She is moving to the home from a cramped apartment in Prospect Park.
“This is a change of environment, a change of scenery and a new life,” she said. “Even if I don’t have anything in the house, as long as I’m living there, I’m happy.”
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