MILWAUKEE— Home for the holidays has a special meaning for some Wisconsin families. A nonprofit is helping more people overcome roadblocks to homeownership in a pandemic.
It's all about making a house, a home. Two Milwaukee families are celebrating their first Christmas in their own space. Something that took hard work and determination.
New homeowner Nakeita Dismukes told us, "I felt like when we put the work in it, we look around and be like, 'Oh gosh. We really did this.'"
This family of six are homeowners for the first time.
"I painted every nook and cranny of this house. Every single wall and I just look at it like 'Wow,'" Nakeita says.
With the help of a nonprofit, Nakeita and her husband were able to break through roadblocks, that in the past, prevented them from owning.
"We came, we looked at it and we loved it. It needed some TLC so we put our bid in and two weeks down the line we were here," Yuselff Dismukes says.
This couple had a lot of work ahead of them. "Before" pictures show just how much renovation was needed. The Dismukes worked on the house for about six months.
The kids now all have their own rooms. Something that lets Mya Patterson do what she loves,
"When I tried to dance in the old house it didn't work out well, because me and my sister were fighting about sides."
Her older sister Marley Dismukes is also enjoying her own space.
Acts Housing has been busy during the pandemic, helping families like the Dismukes.
The nonprofit saw a big jump in interest from renters wanting to move into homeownership. Now, more than 165 families in Milwaukee and Beloit are celebrating the season in a new home: A dream the program makes possible for people facing income, credit, language and other barriers.
That dream coming true is something Sheila De Cuevas and her family are so thankful for.
"The transition from renting and having our own home was like a true blessing," she says.
We first met Sheila in April. She and her husband had just started fixing up their house.
"We came so far from where we bought the house; it was so trashed. I got a vision for this house. This is home," Sheila says.
And that vision includes living by example for their four children.
"If they have a will they can make it. They can do anything in their life, nothing's impossible," Sheila explains.
The De Cuevas family went from living in a 700 square foot rental to owning more than 2,000 square feet. It's a story Sheila is now sharing with others as an Acts Housing employee.
"I try to inspire them not to be stuck, because some families think it's not possible for them."
Sheila lets them know it's hard work, but the payoff is big.
For the Dismukes, they kept the new house, and the kids getting their own rooms, a surprise while they renovated.
"If we could relive that moment. They were blown away; they were so excited," Nakeita says.
A wish come true, in a year of uncertainty.
Through Acts Housing, families that commit to foreclosed properties save money by doing many repairs themselves. You can learn more about homeownership on the program's website.