“You need somewhere that is just home base- that this is just somewhere you can always come back to, and it's stable- the consistency.”
Natalie is more than a glass half full person - she reminds herself and her kids regularly that they are lucky to have a glass. “Me being me”, she says with a half-hearted chuckle, “one of my favorite sayings with my kids is, you get what you get and you don’t pitch a fit.”
For the past two and a half years, she and her five children have been squeezing tightly into a three-bedroom rental house in Mint Hill. She and her son each have one of the smaller bedrooms, and her four daughters all share the larger master bedroom. “Practically, logistically, it’s very difficult”, she explains about their cramped living arrangements. “I’ve got four girls in one bedroom and you’ve got age ranges from 15 and 16 down to 6 and 8, and so they’re just on completely opposite spectrums of life right now. You’ve got little girls wanting to be little girls and you’ve got teenagers growing into young women and sharing a bathroom and trying to function all on top of each other. You’ve got the little ones going to bed at 8 o’clock and the older ones have homework, they need to stay up until 11 or 12”.
The house has other issues as well: mold, an a/c unit that was on the fritz for over a year, windows that won’t open or are missing glass, and an insect infestation that never seems to get resolved. In addition, like so many other renters, Natalie is paying more than she can really afford on rent, each month she spends almost an entire paycheck on a place to live.
Despite all this, Natalie is quick to point out that she counts it as a blessing that she and her kids had a roof over their heads at all these past few years. Even with all of its issues, she had to search rental properties for months when the homeowner of the place they lived prior wouldn’t renew their lease because he was selling the property. “I looked and looked and looked and I couldn’t find anything. And I really was like, okay, this is not good, and the market’s crazy... I was on every single [site] like, applying for this house, for that house, for the other, and it was just crazy, and finally I found [that] one.”
Now, as a Greater Matthews Habitat Partnering Homeowner, Natalie can put those concerns behind her. “I cried. I mean I was shaking and crying”, she says, describing how she responded when she received the call that she had been selected. “I never would have imagined a brand new house.” For the first time, she will be able to offer her children a place to live where they won’t have to worry about moving when their lease is up, or having to sacrifice one child’s needs for another simply because of a lack of space. “In order for them to be successful, you do need a home”, she knowingly explains. “You need somewhere that is just home base- that this is just somewhere you can always come back to, and it's stable- the consistency.”
Even with all of the challenges she’s had to face, Natalie cites her faith in God for her unwavering gratitude and belief that everything will work out. She likes to keep a prayer board where she writes things down with questions marks and then “…whenever God answers, I put a date that He answers it, and I mean, this is one of those I get to go a looong way back in my prayers, to go okay God, here we are now. When God opens a door, he opens it wide. You don’t have to knock the door down. He just lets you walk right through sometimes.”