Discouraged, the couple gave up, figuring they'd never be able to buy a house in
Then they heard about
Standing in the kitchen of their nearly completed home on
"It's surreal that this is actually happening," said Abraham, a chef at the
The couple's first step toward achieving their dream of home ownership was receiving credit counseling through the National Affordable Housing Network in Uptown Butte. They caught up on bills and brought up their credit scores. They both opened savings accounts for the first time in their lives.
Cabrera began working on the house in early 2013.
It's a misconception that
In this round of building, six families worked together to build six homes around town. Two of the houses are Habitat houses, while the other four are part of the
This barn-raising technique of home construction allows families to help each other build these homes and create a community of friends while they're at it.
"It's a support structure," said
Though professionals take care of the plumbing and electrical, and students from
In Habitat houses, much of the building materials are provided for free by local vendors, and the labor is supplied by the many hands of volunteers making light work. Miller said more than 150 people worked on the two Habitat houses in the past year.
Abraham said he and Crystal met "a lot of really good people" in the process.
"It made me feel like I could be a bigger part of the community than I was. We were painting Joe's house on
For Cabrera, the most difficult part was juggling the build with the rest of her life.
"I have a full-time job. I have four kids," she said. "I feel like I've missed out on the first year of my (youngest) son's life."
And a few months into construction, Cabrera was laid off when the 4B's restaurant closed. She felt overwhelmed, like the walls were closing in on her, and she wanted to give up. She and Richie split for a while, too.
"I didn't think I could do it. I was a single mom, working minimum wage," she said. "Every time I've worked for something this hard, it gets screwed up."
But she was able to find a job as the assistant manager and grocery merchandiser at a Town Pump station, a job she enjoys. The folks at the National Affordable Housing Network cheered her on. Cabrera's sister helps care for her four young children. Despite the challenges, Cabrera and Abraham made up their differences and look forward to sharing their new home with their children.
"It's the greatest accomplishment that I've ever done," Cabrera said. "I encourage other people to go ahead and try. My family is like, 'Christmas at your house this year!'"
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