Nephateria (Neph) Atemon moved to Alabama from Colorado in 2006 with son, Devon, and daughter, Sarah, to be closer to family in Decatur. She found an apartment and a job and settled in.
Their family expanded when Neph married Timothy, and again when second son, Cameron, was born in 2012. By the time third son, Kaleb, was born in 2014, Neph’s three-bedroom apartment was bursting at the seams, and costing them $700 in rent each month.
The Atemons felt they had limited options. They wanted to own a home, but didn’t see how it was possible. “My husband and I never really established credit in our names so we didn't have bad credit; we just didn't have ANY credit. We found it hard to try and get a loan for a house not having any credit," said Neph.
Neph’s mother encouraged them to apply with the Habitat for Humanity of Morgan County. “I applied for Habitat for Humanity on one of my restless nights on the couch, thinking the worst thing that can happen is I get denied,” she said. “I was wrong! We got accepted into the program, and the rest is history!”
The Atemon family jumped into the process with enthusiasm. Neph said, “There was a lot of paperwork and, at times, it could be a bit overwhelming. But when I would think even just for one second that I can land up with a house afterwards … that was my motivation.”
Lydia Beck, family services coordinator for HFH of Morgan County , recalls working with the Atemon family, “When the Atemons applied to the Habitat program, their family of five (with one on the way) was crammed into a small apartment that was much too small for their family. The rent and utilities were eating up 37 percent of their monthly income. On their application, they said, We both have dreamed of owning our own home and are determined to do whatever it takes to be homeowners. I don’t know if I’ve ever worked with a more grateful family. It was such a pleasure to partner with a family who truly appreciated what you were doing to create a better future for them and their children!”
The Atemons enjoyed helping to build houses and plant trees in Habitat’s Denver Place subdivision while waiting for construction on their home to begin. “For us, the fun part began when we did construction hours,” said Neph. “It was exciting going to help build someone else’s home thinking one day we are going to be doing ours. We helped build about four or five homes on our block and planted some trees. It’s nice to be able to drive down the block and say we helped build these houses or we planted that tree.”
Tim, Neph, and their four children moved in immediately after the dedication ceremony for their house in June 2016. “We transitioned from renting very well,” said Neph. “We really enjoyed going to the classes that basically teach you how to be a great homeowner. We still use stuff we learned during builds to help us with our home. We think the whole process is VERY educational and a great experience for anyone. You can't beat hands-on experience.”
Two years later and the Atemons still love being homeowners. Neph said, “So far everything has been wonderful, and we just added a privacy fence to our backyard. The kids love it, but I don't think they love it as much as myself and my husband. We love having our own bedroom and a home we are buying, not wasting our money on renting. It feels amazing every day, and every day I am forever grateful for the Lord, the Habitat for Humanity program, and every other program that makes it possible for people like our family to one day become homeowners.”
The Atemon family's mortgage was purchased by AHFA as part of a program through which AHFA purchases loans from Habitat affiliates. This allows affiliates to continue building efforts while AHFA receives mortgagors’ monthly payments for the life of the loan.