Daily CSR
Daily CSR

Daily CSR
Daily news about corporate social responsibility, ethics and sustainability

From Renting to Homeownership: Ambera Pruitt’s Journey with Habitat for Humanity


Ambera Pruitt’s residence, like many others, is filled with photographs of loved ones, including her two daughters, her mother, and her sisters. However, there’s a unique picture that stands out - one that includes Ambera and a group of unfamiliar faces who joined forces half a decade ago to construct the very house she now calls home.

This house, along with 22 others, was constructed as part of the 2018 Habitat for Humanity Jimmy & Roslynn Carter Work Project in Mishawaka, Indiana. A few months after its completion, Ambera officially became a homeowner on October 18.

“Time flies; it’s already been five years,” expressed Pruitt. “I am the first in my family to own a house, and it’s brand new.”

Employees from U.S. Bank were among the volunteers who contributed to the construction of Pruitt’s house five years ago in Mishawaka (and also participated in the most recent Carter Work Project build in Charlotte). U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance also invested over $120 million in New Market Tax Credit equity in Habitat affiliates across the country for affordable homeownership projects, resulting in the creation of more than 1,250 units.

Pruitt takes immense pride in her home and her newfound skills as a homeowner. She cherishes the bonds she has formed with her neighbors and appreciates the sense of security that homeownership has brought to her family.

“I’ll tell the girls all the time, I built these walls or I put the siding on that house,” said Pruitt, who put in her own sweat equity as a volunteer, helping with construction of her two-story, three-bedroom, colonial-style home.

“If we take down the cabinets, I have all the signatures there,” she said, referencing how the U.S. Bank volunteers wrote notes of support on the unfinished walls before the kitchen cabinets went up.

“Investing in communities is core to who we are and what we do every day, but we don’t always get to see the longer-term impact of our work in such a personal way,” said Bill Carson, senior business development officer with U.S. Bancorp Impact Finance. “Reconnecting with Ambera and hearing about her life today – after working alongside her on her home five years ago – is so gratifying. It reminds me why we do this work.”

One of the significant aspects of becoming a Habitat homeowner is the comprehensive support provided to new homeowners, which includes financial education and basic homeownership training.

Pruitt is amazed at her newfound skills. “Our back screen door broke due to the wind, and I was able to fix it,” she shared. “I now know how to fix screen doors. That’s what I appreciate about Habitat. They don’t just give you a house and leave you to figure things out. They teach you how to be a homeowner. Sometimes, I can hardly believe this house is mine. I love coming home.”

Over the past five years, Pruitt’s neighborhood has transformed with the construction of more houses, the addition of a park, and the recent laying of the final blacktop on the street. “I remember being told that we would get the final blacktop in five years, and now it’s here,” she remarked. “New neighbors have moved in. The neighborhood looks beautiful.”

Pruitt knows everyone in her neighborhood, attributing this familiarity to their shared Habitat experience. She leads their neighborhood watch group and even bought a minivan to assist with the neighborhood school carpool due to the lack of school bus transportation in Mishawaka.

“I love it because I know them all. I’ve never had that before – I never spoke to my neighbors before, we never had a chance to know each other,” Pruitt said, adding that renting often means moving a lot and never being in one place long enough to put down roots. Now her neighbors also keep an eye on her place if she’s away.

“That’s something new – we have money to visit and go places,” she said. "Before Habitat, as a renter, rent was always going up. My mortgage has never been even close to how much my rent was. It’s a financial relief.”

Pruitt beams with pride for what this home means for her family and the security homeownership has provided. Five years ago, when construction was underway, she hoped to be able to move in by Thanksgiving.

“With U.S. Bank’s help, we had an awesome first Thanksgiving in our home,” said Pruitt, who has hosted all the family Thanksgiving dinners since, sometimes with up to 20 people.

“We have a big family, lots of nieces and nephews. There’s space for dad, me, my mom, my sisters. And I have two bathrooms,” she said with a laugh. “No one else in the family has two bathrooms, so we host it.”

The security of homeownership meant not having to worry when her job as a graphic artist went remote during the COVID-19 pandemic. It meant having space to add two dogs to the family. It means her youngest daughter Azaylia, 9, can stay in one school and school district without moving around. And it means Pruitt was ready with an answer when her oldest daughter Charity, 12, asked if she could come back and live in the house after college.
“I said, ‘You can live here forever.’”

Pruitt began marking a wall in the basement to measure the height of her daughters several times a year. Seeing the growth spurts sometimes takes her by surprise.
“My youngest grew five inches from March to August, and I was showing her, ‘This was you, Azaylia.’ We’ll always have that,” said Pruitt. “These are memories that we’ll have forever because this our forever home.”