“The dream of homeownership is something that is achievable.” For Rebecca Lookingbill, 34 and a single mother of two, that dream seemed far-reaching at times. But, it was one she never gave up on. Rebecca and her children lived with her parents for six years while she continued working at United Healthcare. She was saving for their own place to call home. A lifelong resident of Frederick County, Maryland, she wanted to raise her own children locally as well. She was frustrated by the lack of affordable homes. She persevered, discovering and applying for Habitat’s Home Build program. After being approved, Rebecca, who donated her required sweat equity hours alongside Habitat volunteers, literally helped make her dream become a reality with her own two hands. Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County built the home. They enabled her to purchase it through a low-payment loan at a subsidized price, ensuring affordable payments.
How did you find out about the Home Build Program from Habitat for Humanity?
I was looking to buy a house on my own. Finally, I got my credit established and I did all the right things. I had gone through the process with a realtor to try and find a house on my own. There was nothing in our area that I could afford. Then, I kept thinking, “there’s got to be other options out there.” I had heard about Habitat for Humanity before. I just thought I could go and see if they had some sort of program to help first-time homebuyers. Little did I know they would be able to put me in a house built from scratch.
You split from the father of your children because he was struggling with drug addiction. Can you tell me a little about that? how did it play into the challenges of trying to purchase a home with a single income?
We had been together since we were teenagers. He first started getting into trouble when my daughter was three or four. Right after my son was born it was obvious I had to move on. There isn’t a lot you can do once someone is that deep into addiction. The kids and I moved in with my parents and stayed with them for quite a few years. As the kids got older they wanted their own place and their own rooms. So that was when I started trying to save money for a home.
What do you think has been the hardest part of your journey to become a homeowner?
The journey leading up to buying the house had its own challenges. I think there have been even more now that I’ve actually lived here for a while. I work really hard to budget my money and spend wisely. Now I have money saved just in case I unexpectedly need money for a home repair.
What does being a homeowner mean to you and your children?
It means everything. My children can finally have friends over. We can have family over to our house for dinners and around the holidays. It means everything because it’s our own space.
What do you hope people will learn from your story?
Just keep trying, don’t ever give up — even if you are a single mom. There are programs out there, especially like Habitat, that are not a hand-out but are there to help. Do a little research to see what’s out there. It is possible that you, too, can become a homeowner.
Habitat for Humanity’s Women Build program empowers women from all walks of life to address, in a concrete way, the need for more affordable housing in our communities. Through Women Build, volunteers and sponsors give our neighbors the strength, stability and self-reliance of affordable home ownership.
The 2020 Frederick Women Build Week will take place May 3-9th. During this exciting volunteer week, women from throughout Frederick will gather in the Discovery Neighborhood. They’ll work with the local homeowners as they uplift the homes of individual homeowners and community spaces. All for the benefit of all who live there as part of Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization program.
All photos are courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of Frederick County.