This large, happy family is full of love that appears in all their interactions with each other. Amelwork Gebretsadik, the matriarch, works as a housekeeper at a hotel in Washington, DC. Her husband, Taye Kassaye, works as a security guard for an office building in Washington, DC. Their children are lovely and as hardworking as their parents. Their oldest daughter, Kidist Solomon, is 28 and newly married. She is expecting her first child in March and is studying to be a nurse. The only son of the family, Birhan Solomon, is 25. He is getting a degree in electrical engineering in Pennsylvania. The older children live independently, but the youngest three girls will live with their parents in their Habitat home. The middle child, Tsiyone, is 19 and goes to Northern Virginia Community College. She hopes to transfer to either American University or George Mason and then study law. Arsema, 13, is in the 8th grade at Thomas Jefferson Middle School in Arlington. The baby of the family, Eden, is 4 years old and will be starting school in September.
Their current apartment is very small for a family of their size. So when Amelwork heard about Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia, she went on the website immediately. Amelwork was very excited to know that her family could own a home for the first time. She was excited for the experience from the beginning: “The first meeting day, I was very happy. My son and I went, and the first thing they did in the meeting was pray. If you start anything with God, then you are guaranteed to have a good ending.” Faith is a very important part of their lives. When they moved into the Washington, DC area 13 years ago from Ethiopia, their church community helped them assimilate into the area. They are very thankful for their strong faith community and their family is of utmost importance to them. The Solomons are a strong, unified family that can take on anything.
The Habitat Approach to Homeownership
- To qualify for a Habitat home, families must live in substandard housing prior to becoming homeowners and earn between 25% and 80% of the area median income ($98,000 in Arlington County).
- We believe in a hand up, not a handout. As such, each Habitat family contributes 300 to 500 hours of “sweat equity” in the building of their home and other Habitat homes.
- Habitat homeowners pay a 20- to 30-year, zero interest mortgage and make a 1% down payment on their homes.
- Homeowner mortgage payments are reinvested into future Habitat homes, and Habitat for Humanity does not make a profit on any homes sold.
Perry Hall is a 12-unit condominium community located near the corner of South Glebe Road and South 17th Street in Arlington. It is a renovation project that will provide 12 low- to moderate-income families in Northern Virginia with a home of their own.