When Hurricane Harvey flooded her Houston home, Alba Rivas, a single working mother, was forced to flee with her three young children.
The family has been living in an efficiency apartment for more than six months, but won’t be sharing a single room much longer. Members of three churches – First United Methodist in Bryan, Texas (about 100 miles northwest of Houston), First Methodist of Houston, and a partner church in New Hampshire – joined with a Houston affordable housing agency and city officials to build the family a new house.
AmeriLife joined other private donors and corporate sponsors who helped to fund the entire cost of materials. The project broke ground on Feb. 24 in the Acres Homes subdivision in Houston, which is undergoing revitalization. Major construction on the house was completed on Mar. 5, with additional work continuing over three consecutive weekends throughout March. The goal is to have the home ready by April.
“This family lost everything,” said Gregg Barfield, director of Systems and Technology with AmeriLife Benefits. He’s a member of FUMC of Bryan, a resident of neighboring College Station and a coordinator of the homebuilding project, one of many FUMC has undertaken with other churches over the past 12 years.
“We’ll also be collecting furniture and appliance donations when the home is complete,” he said.
About a month after the water receded, the Rivas family went back to their house. But it had been flooded up to the roof and was caked inside with mold and mildew.
“They tried to stay, but the kids got sick,” Barfield says. The family was given temporary shelter in an efficiency apartment with one burner for cooking.
“As an organization that serves the needs of others, this was an obvious fit for us,” said Mike Vietri, Chief Distribution and Marketing Officer for AmeriLife. “We could not be happier to help give this hard-working mom and her kids the home they deserve.”
In anticipation of her new home, Alba will attend homeowner education classes to learn about mortgages, property taxes and other important information.