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At last, a home of their own

More than two decades ago Almaz Gidey fled her home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She and a brother came to the United States in 1992 as refugees. They left without telling their parents because that would have put them in danger.

The family is originally from Eritrea but the war for Eritrean independence made conditions unsafe. Gidey and her brother took flight to Kenya, then received refugee status in the United States.

She first landed in Dallas, Texas. After the birth of her son, Emmanuel, Gidey moved to Minnesota. In 2007 her father died and her mother, Tblets Ghebremedhin, came to live with her. Gidey works for TCF.

The family has longed for a home to call their own, and come this winter they will move to Rosemount to start the next chapter of their American dream. Gidey has been chosen to purchase a house on Darling Path through the Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity program.

Habitat for Humanity provides affordable housing to families. The program sells homes with affordable, 0 percent interest, 30-year mortgages.

Public funding program manager Mike Radcliffe said the three-bedroom house, a foreclosure, was donated to Habitat for Humanity by Bank of America. Radcliffe said the house required some renovations before the family could move in.

Volunteers with Habitat for Humanity and the family have worked throughout the fall to make necessary improvements to the house. Each Habitat for Humanity family is required to contribute 150 sweat equity hours. Radcliffe said it is a common misperception that Habitat for Humanity gives away house. The families are required to put in some of the physical labor as well as pay a mortgage on the house.

Communication director Matt Haugen said the Dakota Crew, a group of volunteers from Dakota County, made most of the improvements.

In all, Radcliffe said about $30,000 worth of improvements were made to the house.

This is the first Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity project in Rosemount. Radcliffe said land prices have made it difficult for the program to do many projects in Dakota County. This fall the program also did a project in Eagan.

Partnering with the Dakota County Community Development Agency has made the Dakota County projects possible. Throughout the Twin Cities, Habitat for Humanity has helped more than 1,000 families buy homes.

In addition to the physical labor hours, the family also has to go through 20 hours of training to become home owners. The training includes education on budgeting and home ownership. 

Haugen said the path to home ownership has been a long one for Gidey. She first applied for a home in 2006. Currently the family lives in an apartment in the metro area.

The possibility of living in a house means something different to each member of the family. For Tblets, it’s hard to believe what they’ll have. After being separated from her children for many years, she’s excited to have them all in Minnesota, safe and comfortable.

Emmanuel, 14, is excited to have a yard to play in and a place to ride his bike.

And for Gidey the prospect of owning a home is “more than I ever dreamed about.”

Emily Zimmer
Emily Zimmer has worked as a staff writer for the Rosemount Town Pages since 2007. She has a degree in journalism from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Outside of work, Emily enjoys running, reading and gardening. You can follow Emily's gardening adventures at the Areavoices blog East of Weedin'
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