Two Local Families to Celebrate Holidays in New Homes, Thanks to Habitat for Humanity

Liz Doss holds her daughter Madeline as they pose for a picture on the deck of their new home, which was built by Habitat for Humanity.

Madeline was so excited. The teal hood of her flowered jacket bounced up and down as she asked her mother Liz Doss to play four corners.

Standing on the back deck of their new home, Liz told Madeline that two players were not enough. Jason Doss, Madeline’s father and would-be player, was inside listening as an instructor explained some of the particulars of efficiently heating and cooling the new house.

After signing papers and participating in a dedication ceremony, the Dosses – along with another family the Houstons — were officially given the keys to their new homes, which are right next door to one another.

Both homes were built through Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity, a United Way of Central Alabama (UWCA) partner agency, which not only builds homes but provides the education and resources to help new homeowners succeed.

Jason Doss said that since the onset of the pandemic in 2020, he and his family haven’t been able to afford the monthly payments required from a traditional mortgage.

“With COVID, what we could finance for, we couldn’t afford anymore,” Doss said. “We went through all the different options, and applying with Habitat was one of the options that my mom suggested because she lives right around the corner.”

“The new home means everything,” Doss said. “My mom’s not too far away, so I can keep an eye on her, and she can help us out with the kids. And being closer to work always helps out.”

The new location is also a better fit for their lifestyle, said Liz Doss.

“It’s a lot quieter, which I thoroughly enjoy because right now we have people above us and below us. It’s not fun. It really isn’t,” Doss said, “and I’m ready to let the kids just run around wherever they like and not have to worry about the neighbors as much.”

Erica Houston, who got the keys to the home next door to the Dosses on the same day, said she sought Habitat’s help this April based on a recommendation from a cousin.

While she has been supporting her family for about two years as a machine compression operator at Oxford Pharmaceuticals, Houston and her two children were previously living in Elyton Village, a public housing development on the western side of Birmingham.

Through Habitat, Houston said she was able to learn everything she needed to become a homeowner, including financial management and home maintenance, including taking care of a yard.

“Habitat for Humanity is a good experience, and it’s very helpful for families that are trying to become homeowners,” Houston said, “especially in the economy we have nowadays.”

With the new home, Houston said she is most excited to embark on a “new adventure” for herself and her children.

“I’m very excited. I’m ready for my babies to see the new home,” Houston said. “I did the program for them, so they could have a new adventure and a new start, to start the new year off right.”

Greater Birmingham Habitat for Humanity has been a UWCA partner agency since 2000. Charles Moore, the agency’s President and CEO, said the work of agencies such as Habitat is built upon collaboration in a broader community. UWCA enables Habitat to collaborate, he said.

“We see United Way as a kind of convening of all those agencies partnering together,” Moore said, “working together to meet needs in the community.”

The network of agencies that UWCA provides is exemplified by the partnership between Habitat and Better Basics, another UWCA partner agency, Moore said. When Habitat completes a build for a new family, Better Basics often provides free books for the children in the household.

Those types of partnerships are possible due to the collaborative and giving spirit in Central Alabama, Moore said.

“We’ve got a total of about 25 staff, and yet we rank in the top 15 Habitat for Humanity franchises nationally, and it’s because of the generosity and giving spirit of people around the Birmingham area that make that possible.”

Both of these Habitat builds were sponsored by TV station ABC 33/40 as part of a project called Home for the Holidays. This is the 21st year that Habitat and ABC 33/40 have worked together on this project.

To read more about Home for the Holidays and this year’s builds, go to https://abc3340.com/news/local/home-for-the-holidays-2023-habitat-for-humanity-house-housing-build.