Habitat for Humanity helps Knoxville woman after a decade in transitional housing

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Habitat for Humanity just wrapped up a housing blitz in Knoxville building six houses in one week. It’s a spectacular feat to pull this off, but it’s the stories of the people who will live there that paint the true picture of how incredible this all is.

WATE 6 On Your Side was there several days throughout the blitz and was able to meet one of the women who will be living in one of these new homes.

Extended Coverage: Building a Better Future

It was a relatively peaceful scene in the Silver Leaf community of East Knoxville during the early morning hours of April 11. The sun was shining down on this new chapter for these first-time homeowners. The pace, however, quickly changed as hundreds of volunteers worked tirelessly in any weather, including lots of rain, to complete these homes in one week.

Anne Hilliard
Anne Hilliard

Anne Hilliard is currently living at the YWCA as part of their women’s housing program. It’s one of many places she has relied on over the past 10 years, but she will soon be living in one of these new homes.

“This is huge is what this is!  We have a joke with Anne that in 10 years she went through every transitional housing program here in Knoxville, but every one got her here,” said Eva Pierce with A Hand Up for Women.

The non-profit is designed to help women realize their full potential. Pierce was one of the first people to reach out to Hilliard, almost a decade ago when she was homeless and fighting stay sober.

“She’d say, ‘I am ready to start again,'” Pierce explained. “She started over several times with us and I always told her the only one that matters is the last one and this is the last one!”Still0420_00001

A Hand Up for Women helped Anne find a place to stay at the YWCA which seemed to be a turning point. Gladys Farmer with the “Y” has watched the transformation.

“There are a lot of barriers they can overcome with a little help, but first of all we have to build their self esteem and let them know they can do it one step at a time,” said Farmer.

Each step creates a new challenge, though. All three of these women will tell you getting a Habitat home is not a handout, it’s work and a lot of it.

“People say, ‘Oh, they are going to give you a house.’ Oh, no they are not,” said Hilliard. “I did a lot of stuff with my credit. I started in March of last year. There are budget classes every week for a whole year. Through that process I grew.”

Slideshow: Building a Better Future



There are also construction classes, home maintenance classes and estate planning, just to name a few. Each new homeowner is required to attend these. Hilliard will also make mortgage payments, continue to volunteer on builds with Habitat and tell her story to inspire people to be more self sufficient.

“I also want to be able to help others and say this isn’t where you have to be under a bridge or at serenity house or at a halfway house. You have opportunities and resources. Here they are!”

Hilliard will move into her new home in June. She is looking forward to a little peace and quiet away from her 57 roommates and she wants a little time to take in this life changing moment.

“I want to sit in my living room and take it all in and be like look at what the Lord has done. He has blessed me,” she said, wiping away tears.

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