Immigrants realize dream of homeownership via ABHMS, One Great Hour of Sharing
Lucy North and her young son, recent immigrants from Africa, will soon realize the dream of a safe, welcoming and affordable home of their own in Lowell, Mass. This scenario was made possible because American Baptist Churches USA, at the request of American Baptist Home Mission Societies, provided a $30,000 One Great Hour of Sharing Development Grant to Greater Lowell American Baptist Churches’ Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.
Greater Lowell American Baptist Churches founded the initiative several years ago in response to the growing number of immigrants in Lowell. According to the Boston Business Journal, Massachusetts is the nation’s lowest ranking state in rate of home ownership among people of color. Furthermore, Lowell’s Acre neighborhood suffers lower-than-average household incomes, and a recent study by the University of Massachusetts at Lowell indicates that only 3 percent of low-income families are homeowners.
“Lowell, the fourth largest city in Massachusetts, is a pivotal community in our state, where persons from across the globe enter into American geography and society,” wrote Dr. Tony Pappas, then-executive minister of The American Baptist Churches of Massachusetts, in a letter supporting the initiative. “Yet the ‘new economy’ [read: impoverishment] is also very much in evidence, and the need for quality, safe housing is great, indeed.”
North has been working long hours side by side with volunteer crews from Greater Lowell American Baptist Churches and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Lowell to put her own sweat equity into the home. During construction, volunteers have personally come to know North and have grown honored to labor along with her, as they follow the biblical mandate to “welcome the stranger” (Matthew 25:35).
Greater Lowell American Baptist Churches is comprised of Calvary Baptist Church; Central Baptist
Church, Chelmsford; Chelmsford Street Baptist Church; First Baptist Church, North Billerica; First Baptist Church, South Chelmsford; First Baptist Church, Tewksbury; First United Baptist Church; and Lowell International Church.