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Lansing refugee family, volunteers dedicate new Habitat for Humanity home

Posted at 7:40 PM, May 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-21 09:13:40-04

LANSING, Mich. — Salah and Fatema Mahdi, both refugees from Iraq, have dreamed of owning a home in Lansing for more than a decade. Now a mid-Michigan non-profit is making their dream real.

Talonda Mulgrew, the Habitat for Humanity Capital Region homeowner services director

“Homeownership is one of those things that can change lives,” said Talonda Mulgrew, the Habitat for Humanity Capital Region homeowner services director.

Habitat Capital Region was founded in 1987 and has helped more than 2,000 low to moderate-income families in mid-Michigan find safe housing.

“We are building homes, community, and hope,”

“We are building homes, community, and hope,” said Mulgrew. “This house here was donated to us when the owner passed away and they wanted their legacy of homeownership to continue.”

Salah and Fatema came to the U.S. in 2008. After renting an apartment for 10 years, they wanted to find more permanent housing they could call their own.

"It feels like we've accomplished something working with Habitat," said Esta Mahdi, the couple's youngest daughter.

The couple has five children, but only two have immigrated to the US with them. Iraq’s political climate makes it difficult for the other three to continue the immigration process and join their parents here.

Salah and Fatema
Salah and Fatema pose for a portrait with their daughter, Esta.

Esta, the only child who will live in the new house, says owning a home always felt out of reach for her family.

"This is what they've wanted for a long time"

"This is what they've wanted for a long time," said Esta. "For my parents to get exactly what they want, is a very nice feeling."

Mulgrew said a friend of theirs told them about the Habitat homeownership program.

“They were looking for an opportunity to purchase a house, but had some financial barriers that were standing in their way,” she said.

Habitat Capital Region’s relaxed credit standards allow homeowners to have an affordable mortgage, eliminating a hurdle that prevents many families from buying a house.

Habitat for Humanity Capital Region sold sign
Habitat for Humanity Capital Region helps families build homes with affordable mortgages.

The nonprofit partners with construction workers and volunteers to give homeowners the opportunity to work on their own house.

"It's such a blessing to see people come together"

"It's such a blessing to see people come together," said Esta. "It kind of gives you hope for humanity again."

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Erica Murphy

Erica Murphy

1:21 PM, Mar 03, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Erica Murphy

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