Family plants roots in Redford Township: Agencies team up to help build affordable house

Angela Jackson and her three children will soon be getting a fresh start in Redford.

“It’s wonderful,” said Jackson. “It shows how much love there is in the world.”
Jackson had been peering through what will become a window in her new house on Berwyn Street only moments before.

Dozens of Habitat for Humanity volunteers were on hand Friday to raise the walls on Jackson’s 1,200-square-foot house. A widowed mother raising three girls, Jackson was emotional as friends, family and members of the community gathered to pitch in.

“It means so much to us,” she said. “The girls are already talking about picking out their rooms.”

Her late husband, Anthony, was killed while trying to help a stranger who had flagged him down on the freeway. The woman told Anthony she had been beaten up by a man and needed a ride to her sister’s house. He said he would help and wound paying with his life. The man caught up with Anthony’s car and beat him to death on Oct. 4, 2009.

The family struggled to cope with his death and finances proved difficult. Help came from the Yatooma Foundation — a Birmingham charity that helps children who have lost a parent.

“I know what they are going through,” said Andrea Yatooma. “My husband was tragically killed in a carjacking. I was 45 and had to raise four boys on my own … We help with grief counseling or money for food. Anything we can do to ease the pain. We have done a lot of life-changing work.”

Yatooma had tears in her eyes while she explained how important it was to give families facing dire circumstances a helping hand. In the Jackson’s case, the foundation helped pay living expenses and got her in touch with the right people at Habitat for Humanity -a connection that led to the new house in Redford.

“You can see the passion Andrea has for this,” said Redford Township Supervisor Tracey Schultz Kobylarz. “You have to have passion to do work like this and Andrea certainly does.” Kobylarz and a host of officials were on hand Friday.

“It’s great to have volunteers but if you don’t have money, you can’t build anything,” said Alice Dent, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Western Wayne County. “So thanks to HUD.”

Redford Township picked up the tab for construction using SNAP Funds (Stabilizing Neighborhood Action Plan) allocated from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program.

Mike Dennis, Redford Township community development director, said the effort to bring stability back to the housing market is paying off. By rehabilitating dilapidated houses and in this case, building a new house, the township is helping turn the tide on dropping housing prices.

“It will take time,” he said. “But it is working.”

The Jackson family is paying for the house but will benefit from a zero-interest mortgage. Habitat for Humanity will use the money from Jackson’s house payments to fund other housing projects.

Redford Township and Habitat for Humanity expect to build another house in the south end this fall.

The house was an eyesore for months and police and firefighters used it for training maneuvers.

Christine Hall, who has lived across the street for 35 years, saw all the commotion that building a Habitat for Humanity house brings to a neighborhood.

“It should be good to have a new house there,” she said.

Jackson and her girls plan to move in to the new house in early October.

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