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PALMYRA, NJ (February 24, 2021) – The Belfquih family of four had always dreamed of being homeowners. Now, after 12 years of living in a 2-bedroom apartment in Evesham Township, their dream has finally turned into a reality, thanks to Habitat for Humanity of Burlington and Mercer Counties’ (BMC) Affordable Homeownership Program.
Abdul & Salima Belfquih, along with their children ages 14 and 17, were recently welcomed into their new 3-bedroom, 1 bath home in Palmyra by Habitat BMC’s CEO Lori Leonard, who presented them with keys to their new home and housewarming gifts on behalf of the organization. The home dedication included special remarks from Daniel J. O’Connell, Deputy Director, Burlington County Board of Commissioners; Mayor Gina Tait, Borough of Palmyra; Mike Sherman, President of Habitat BMC’s Board of Directors; Lori Leonard, and others, along with a virtual tour of the home. This is Habitat BMC’s 274th home dedication.
The Belfquih family’s journey to homeownership started with a visit to the New Jersey Housing Resource Center, where they learned about Habitat for Humanity’s Affordable Homeownership Program. Through this program, the Belfquihs are utilizing an income-based, zero-interest
30-year mortgage and are committed to providing 400 hours of Sweat Equity working on their own home, in the ReStores, and participation in 9 weeks of financial literacy courses to help ensure their success as homeowners.
“We congratulate the Belfquih family on becoming homeowners for the very first time and are proud that Habitat was able to work closely with them to help them achieve their dream of homeownership,” said Lori Leonard, CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Burlington and Mercer Counties. “The Belfquih family is a great testament to hardworking people who just need a hand up and direction to help guide them to the right path of homeownership, and all the benefits that come along with it.”
Lori Leonard, CEO, Habitat for Humanity of Burlington and Mercer Counties, presents the Belfquih family with keys to their new home in Palmyra.
Journey to Homeownership
Looking back, Abdul says that initially, his family’s 2-bedroom Evesham apartment they rented through Moorestown Ecumenical Neighborhood Development
(MEND) was comfortable and sufficient when the children were young. But over time, as the children grew into teenagers, space was a major issue. The Belfquih family hoped to transfer into a larger apartment after the first year at the apartment– but it wasn’t possible due to limited availability for three-bedroom units, coupled with the financial strain of higher rent.
Additionally, Abul found himself in a quandary. Due to income requirement mandates by government agencies, Abul, who has been employed as a cook for over a decade, was not able to quality for a larger apartment because he was slightly over the income threshold.
As new homeowners, Abdul and Salima share this advice for future Habitat Homeowners. “Owning a home, especially during this time, is not easy to do. It takes sacrifice but it is possible, and it is all worth it. When you purchase a home through Habitat, you will become part of a community that cares about you and your family. So get prepared. Manage your budget. Make time to volunteer. You are not only investing into your future; you are investing into future Habitat homes.”
“Habitat is preparing us for financing and how to work within our monthly budget – they’re teaching us how to be financially fit to own a home,” continues Abdul. “They want us to succeed.”
Abdul and Salima’s lives have come full circle. Their new home in Palmyra is just five blocks away from where they resided many years ago, after emigrating from Morocco where Abdul studied Economics at the University.
“We really like Palmyra and the new home is great – it fits within our financial means and I feel empowered to be a homeowner. Our entire family is very excited!
No matter the circumstances, Habitat BMC continues to build homes, community, and hope. Find program information online at habitatscnj.org or contact staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for affordable homeownership and email@example.com for neighborhood revitalization.
To view the video dedication online, visit: https://youtu.be/p5D8gLtWQEE
The Belfquih family stands in front of their new Habitat for Humanity of Burlington and Mercer Counties home in Palmyra.
About Habitat for Humanity of Burlington and Mercer Counties
Habitat for Humanity of Burlington and Mercer Counties (Habitat BMC) is an independent affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, which operates through independent, local affiliates to ensure that all functions of the organization have maximum relevance and impact on individual communities. In the fall of 2020, the Burlington and Mercer Counties affiliate merged with the Atlantic County affiliate to make a greater impact on affordable housing options in New Jersey. Habitat BMC serves families in need in Atlantic, Burlington, Mercer and portions of Middlesex counties, and manages ReStore locations in Egg Harbor Township, Hamilton and Maple Shade. Since its inception, the affiliates have collectively built nearly 300 and repaired over 150 homes for low- and moderate-income families, serving 77 municipalities and over 1.1 million residents. To learn more about Habitat BMC, visit http://www.habitatscnj.org.