Pride of Ownership: Affordable Housing
About the episode
“You’re just trying to cover the rent and then you pay the rent and you’re short on money for food.” –Andre Lavoie
DEEP ROOTS IN HINGHAM
The Lavoie family has lived in Hingham for more than a century. Andre, now 51, used to play with his brother in the woods off Central Street. But when it was time for the Marine to settle down and start a family, buying a house in Hingham was way out of reach for Andre and his wife Danielle. Affordable Hingham housing was a pipe dream. “It’s hard to swing that down payment,” Andre said. “You know, people struggle, people work and struggle. If minimum wage doesn’t go up, how do you live? How do you pay your bills? You have to have a college education to survive in these towns and, you know, realistically make a hundred grand.”
Andre and Danielle looked at rentals, but monthly rents in Hingham were still too high. The couple lived with Andre’s grandfather for a time, but then found an apartment they could afford in Hull.
They loved Hingham, but settled on the fact, they’d never own a home here.
It was 2005. Danielle was flipping through an outdated issue of the Hull times. She saw an article on South Shore Habitat for Humanity. The non profit was looking for first time home buyers to apply to buy a house in Hingham. “They were building a house right around the corner from where my husband grew up,” she said. I was like, that would be amazing!”
With four young kids pulling for her attention, Danielle filed an application and waited. “There were 35-40 other families,” she said. “I remember when they called to tell us, they said they put the names in a hat and they pulled our name out. That’s how we got the house. A lottery. It was winning the lottery.”
In this episode, Andre and Danielle bring us through the hard work and community that built their house. Andre gets teary thinking about the moment they opened the front door, just days before Christmas, and someone had put up a tree to welcome them. “There’s a lot of good people in Hingham,” Andre said.
American Dream Not for All
We also talk with Beth Lyons. She’s the executive director of South Shore Habitat for Humanity. She helps us understand the housing crisis in Massachusetts and how challenging it is to find properties to be used for affordable housing, particularly in wealthy suburbs. We dig into what’s lost for a community like Hingham if there aren’t more options for young families or local teachers and firefighters or seniors trying to stay in their community. It’s a thoughtful and moving conversation. Join us!