Homeless women becoming homeowners through City Mission and Land Bank partnership

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The front door to Michelle Mendez's home is decorated like a present with a bow on it for Christmas. Mendez will tell you her home is one of the greatest gifts she's ever received.

"We were like looking at each other like, 'Is this really real?' Even when they told me that I was going to get the home, my son was like, 'Mom, they are really going to just give us a home?' They were like in disbelief." described Mendez.

Mendez was the first recipient of a rehabbed home from New Horizons Housing Collaborative, a partnership between the City Mission, an organization that provides programs for area homeless, and the Cuyahoga Land Bank.

Mendez is now employed and providing for her children, but just over three years ago, life was much more difficult and dark.

"I was in an abusive marriage for over 15 years or so," said Mendez.

Mendez left the home she had with her seven children at her side. They went to Laura's Home where they could finally live in peace and be safe.

"I saw the difference in my children because for the first time there, was no yelling, no name calling, no fighting. None of that."

About a year later, Mendez got the surprise of her life.

After completing the many programs that Laura's Home offers to help get women back on their feet, Mendez was chosen to receive a rehabbed home.

"We have four homes so far, and each one of those homes have been given to us for one dollar, and then we work with partners to rehab those homes and then work with women who have come through our program at Laura's Home, so that they can move on to the next phase of their journey," said Linda Uveges, the Chief Operating Officer for the City Mission which works with the Cuyahoga Land Bank to acquire properties.

The City Mission's goal is to acquire and rehab two homes a year.

For Michelle and other families like hers, home ownership after being homeless is a gift that proves anything is possible.

"For the first time in my life, I have something I can call my own, and I love it," added Mendez.

The story gets even better. Michelle Mendez is now giving back big time. She works for the City Mission and Laura's Home counseling other women and helping them the way she was helped.

The City Mission is always looking for people and organizations to partner with to make the New Horizons programs possible.

The funding for the past four homes came from churches and individual donors.

Visit New Horizons for more information.

Editor's note: Cleveland 19 News has partnered with The Haven of Portage County to help the homeless with a phone bank from 4 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 21. In Portage County, 16 percent of the population lives in poverty with around 100 homeless people in Kent and Ravenna. The Haven of Portage County is a faith-based organization that is helping provide rest and restoration to the vulnerable in Portage County through holistic healing in the name of Jesus. To donate now, click here

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