Before partnering with Habitat in 1991, Leticia and Manuel Arcega were raising four children in a cramped 2-bedroom house. One day, without warning, the Arcegas received a 30-day eviction notice. Without family nearby, Leticia and Manuel felt like everything they had worked for, the life of opportunity they had wanted to provide for their children, was slipping away.

Arcega FamilyFortunately, at the same time Habitat EBSV (at the time known as Habitat Bay and Valley) was selecting families for our first development. After applying with high hopes, they were approved as a partner family.

Life changed for the Arcega family the moment they were accepted into the Habitat program. While working on the construction site to complete their 500 hours of sweat equity, Manuel was introduced by a volunteer to a job opening at a nearby coffee refinery, a job he secured and still holds today. This job offered Manuel a better work environment, an increase in pay, and a shorter commute, giving Manuel more time with his family in their new home. “We no longer have to fear being evicted,” Leticia remembers feeling at the time. “The payments on our mortgage are affordable, so we will be able to save more.”

For the past 25 years, the Arcegas have made their Habitat house a home. They were able to provide their children, and now grandchildren, the space and comfort they needed to be kids. Now grown with their own families and careers, the Arcega children have stayed nearby, and their Habitat home remains the place to bond and create new memories. “We visit almost every weekend,” said daughter Griselda. “Some families meet at a restaurant; we always say, let’s meet at our parents’ house!”

Griselda often reflects with her siblings on how their lives might have played out differently. “Without Habitat, we might have had to get jobs after high school to help our parents financially,” said Griselda. This home made our family more stable, so my parents could encourage us to go to college.”

Griselda now works for the State of California and followed her parents’ example when she purchased her own home at age 27. “Ever since my parents became homeowners, they encouraged me and my siblings to work toward homeownership, too.”

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