When Habitat for Humanity brought their plans to construct a 12-home development to the Wyoming Planning Commission in February 2001, they were met with a group of residents opposed to its construction. Approximately, 75 residents submitted a petition requesting the project be rejected, citing fears that the 12 homes would destroy their neighborhood and decrease property values. Reluctantly, planners approved the first phase of the proposed Millennium Plat indicating they weren't in favor of it, but legally could not stop it.
Although the approval generated a considerable amount of neighborhood opposition, Habitat officials included those concerned throughout the planning stages to help ease their fears of blight from low-income housing development in the area.
The property was originally purchased from the Wyoming Public Schools with students in the district's building trades program involved in the construction of two of the houses. Each of the twelve homes was sponsored by various organizations throughout the community, such as local banks, churches and businesses. Partial funding of this development was through HUD's SHOP program with participation during the building process by the Field Office Director at the first "Building Blitz", which began in May 2002.
Today the development is a vibrant community and a welcome asset to the neighborhood that once expressed its concern. Two of the families living here shared their stories of what owing a home has meant to them.
Misk and Heydar Sharif and five of their six children on the front porch of their new home
Back Row: L to R Ahamadnur, 14 and Misk
Front: L to R Hindsar, 11 twins-Arafat and Fanusa, 7, Heydar and front right, Amir, 6
For Heydar and Misk Sharif, finding a place to live for a family of eight was
not an easy task. Heydar arrived in the United States from Ethiopia in 2000
and began working at a local plastics factory. He was here alone looking to
secure adequate housing for his family for two years. Most rental properties
were too small and he wondered if he would ever be able to bring his family
together again to join him. A coworker told him about Habitat for Humanity of
Kent County and their ability to provide homes, so he contacted them and submitted
his application. However, he never allowed himself to believe that this could
be true, that someone could help him build his own home. Even when Habitat called
to tell him he was accepted, he still did not believe. In June 2004 Heydar and
his family moved into a five-bedroom, two bath home of their own. Heydar said,
"It was a Dream Come True. Not only for my wife and I, but also for our
children. A place to play and study for their future."
Catalina Roldan and her daughter, Ester, 14 in the living room of their home