By the time she was 18, Brynne and her mother Dawn had been forced to move at least 10 times. “As a single mom, I would have to move from place to place,” Dawn said, “to be able to afford what’s available at that time. And working 3 jobs, you don’t get a lot of time with your child.”
For Brynne, this meant more than just limited time with her only parent—moving meant new schools, new neighbors; it meant leaving old friends behind and the anxiety of finding new ones. “It took a toll emotionally and socially,” Brynne said.
That instability followed Brynne into adulthood, and for almost a year, while living in Portland, she experienced homelessness.
Everything changed when she got pregnant with Karma, 15 years ago.
“I wanted the stability for my kid growing up that I didn’t have when I was a kid,” Brynne told us, “I knew what it was not to have that stability… so I found an apartment—the cheapest in Whatcom County, pretty much.” Dawn moved in shortly after to help her daughter and granddaughter.
The apartment sat above a mechanics shop. The building lacked insulation and was difficult to heat, and the electrical system was old and prone to fires. There was septic leaking in the backyard, and Brynne, who suffered from allergies, was constantly sick from mold exposure. It was likely an illegal apartment, but they could afford it.
During that time, Brynne saw an ad for Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County, and decided to apply. “The worst they could do is say no,” she thought.
Fortunately for the Hubbards, after six years in that apartment, and a lifetime of living in substandard conditions, their hard work started to pay off. It began when Dawn got a job with Bellingham Public Schools as a custodian, and was able to cut down to one job, from three.
And then a call came just before Christmas from a woman named Faith, telling them that they had been approved for a Habitat home. “You couldn’t imagine a better Christmas present than that.” Dawn said. When Brynne found out she was pregnant again, and would soon be having another daughter, she decided to call her Faith.
The groundbreaking for the Hubbard home took place during our Whatcom Habitat’s first ever Women Build event. “Even now, to this day, we find it empowering,” Brynne said, “Karma was 5 at the time, and saw all the women work together. It was awesome to see all these women, showing my daughter how strong women can be, that they can do anything. And I loved my daughter being there seeing that. Seeing how strong she could be. “
The Hubbards have now been in their home for 10 years. During that time, Dawn suffered a shoulder injury and was let go of her job, but, thankfully, they were still able to afford the mortgage. And when the pandemic hit, they had a safe, affordable home to shelter in place. Not only is their home a place to weather life’s storms, it’s a monthly investment in their future.
“This house that we have now,” Brynne said, “I absolutely love. I could never imagine leaving or moving again. For the first time in my life I actually feel safe, which not a lot of people understand. I’m very happy my kids have a safe, stable environment that they can grow up in.”
Join us for Women Build 2021!
Between now and May, hundreds of volunteers will be working together to build affordable housing in Whatcom County. No experience is necessary, and there are so many ways get involved. Click below to sign up today!