Habitat for Humanity provides tools to help those struggling with debt, housing

Published: September 19, 2022 12:20 PM EDT
Updated: September 19, 2022 4:22 PM EDT

As record-high inflation continues, more Americans use credit cards to pay their bills. Florida has the third most credit card debt in the U.S., according to a WalletHub study.

Habitat for Humanity gives you the tools to knock out that debt.

Habitat for Humanity home. (Credit: WINK News)

This Habitat for Humanity home in the works symbolizes Desiree Lewis-Dahlke’s hard work, and in just a couple of months, she’ll move in.

“I can’t even explain it. It’s amazing. I’m so ready. I’m already planning in my head all the things I need to purchase,” said Lewis-Dahlke.

A year ago, she walked into the organization’s office, hoping someone could help her get her finances in order.

“It was my last hope,” said Lewis-Dahlke. “I was struggling. I was barely making minimum wage, and then my landlord came and told me he was raising my rent again. I was already paying about half of my income to rent, and then it was going up to almost 3/4 of my income was going to be rent.”

Her credit counselor taught her how to budget, pay down debt and save, putting her on the road to being a habitat homeowner.

The non-profit builds homes for qualified lower-income families.

“It’s been exciting and nervous. I still have to keep watching my credit, which is hard with teenagers going through senior year, which is so expensive,” said Lewis-Dahlke.

Habitat for Humanity offers a variety of free financial counseling like financial management, homebuying counseling, and foreclosure prevention. It’s for anyone who needs it, no matter how much you make.

“We understand that families right now are struggling,” said Karen Rodriguez, vice president of family services with Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry counties. “Families really need to put their finances in order, and sometimes they are so overwhelmed that they don’t know where to start. So we teach them.”

If you join the program, you’ll be partnered up with a counseling advisor to build out goals and give you the tools to keep your finances on track.

“There is always light at the end of the tunnel. There is always hope. There is always a way to get out from that hole. You just need to establish priorities, and you need to set up goals in order to reach those goals, get out of the hole and improve your whole situation,” said Rodriguez.

Lewis-Dahlke said it hasn’t been easy, but every step of the way has been worth it.
After all, she has a home to show for it. “It’s been so exciting. I came by early today just so I can walk through my house again and look at it.”

Before you attend your housing counseling session, you’ll need to fill out an intake packet. You can find a link to fill one out here.

The organization also offers an eight-hour homebuyer education workshop. It’s approved by the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development.