AFI Case Study: Home Ownership for Low-Income Woman with Cancer

June 20, 2019
woman doing home improvement

Neither a slow economy nor a bout with cancer kept Michelle Purvis from her goal of owning a home.

In 2009, Nassau Habitat for Humanity selected Purvis for its home ownership program.  To qualify, she had to put in 300 hours of sweat equity and contribute a down payment.

Habitat referred her to the Northeast Florida Community Action Agency (NFCAA), where she enrolled in the Family Self-Sufficiency Program and opened an Individual Development Account (IDA).  The IDA matched every dollar she saved with two dollars—money to buy a home, start a business or pay for education. 

Purvis also took advantage of classes that taught her to manage her finances and use credit wisely. Soon she had saved the $750 down payment.  With her match from the IDA account, she then  had $2,250 to apply toward other related costs.

 “It was nice to see that I could save that amount,” observes Purvis.

However, during the nine months it took to build her home, Purvis was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s t-cell lymphoma.

In her time of need, the community stepped up to help.

 Friends, family and co-workers from the Home Depot put on heavy-duty gloves and got down to business.  They worked alongside Purvis to help her complete the required 300 hours of physical labor.

All the hard work paid off. Today, Michelle is cancer-free and living with her children in the house that she built with a little help from her friends, Habitat for Humanity and the Northeast Florida Community Action Agency.