Eligio and his wife, Liliana and their children

Before applying for homeownership through Habitat for Humanity’s BuildBetter with Whirlpool program, Eligio and his wife, Liliana, feared that they would be priced out of the market to own a home. The family’s rent steadily increased on the cramped apartment where they were raising their two young boys, and they worried constantly about providing a stable home where the boys would be free to play.

Since moving into their new Habitat home in Fremont, California, that worry has been lifted. Their stable, affordable mortgage means that they have the resilience to weather lean economic times, and to look forward with confidence.

This is the best thing that could happen to my life,” said Eligio. “This [house] is the most important thing that I can provide for my family.”

Eligio, Liliana, 13-year-old Diego and 10-year-old Sebastian used to live in a small apartment, which made it tough for the boys to play. The apartment also didn’t feel safe for active children because it was old. Unfortunately, allowing Diego and Sebastian to play outside wasn’t an option either, as the strict rules at their apartment complex don’t allow the kids to play in the common space.

Eligio and his family wanted to continue calling the Bay Area home, and to stay near their community and his job at a local post office. However, their rent nearly doubled in their time there. “We couldn’t afford it,” Eligio says. “We thought we would have to move out of the Bay Area and drive back for work.”

Eligio heard about Habitat for Humanity East Bay/Silicon Valley’s home ownership program and applied. “Life gave me a chance when I learned about Habitat,” Eligio says, and he wasted no time in seizing that chance. “When you are thinking of your family, and giving them a safe place, a place where they can grow up with no limitations, you have to find a way to make it happen.”

Eligio and Liliana assisted in the construction of their home, working many hours alongside sponsors and volunteers and completing more than 500 sweat equity hours.

The houses in Central Commons–the neighborhood where Eligio and his family live—were built with optimal value engineering using advanced framing techniques that reduce the amount of lumber used. Eligio and Liliana’s two-bedroom, two-bathroom home has durable cement fiberboard siding made from recycled materials; permeable paving that filters rainwater back into the water table; water-wise landscaping with native plants; and other energy efficient features like insulation, overhangs, windows, whole house fans, “cool roofs,” and more. The family also received an energy-efficient refrigerator and range, which Whirlpool Corporation donates to every Habitat-built home in North America.

The home has one very notable feature: solar panels. Along with the energy saving components of the home, the solar panels help create a low–and most importantly–predictable monthly energy cost for Eligio and his family, even as electricity rates rise. Now, the family knows what their electricity bill is going to be every month. Thanks to their home’s energy efficiency components and solar power system, the home’s energy costs are about 25% of what they were in their apartment.

Now that their dream of homeownership through Habitat for Humanity and Whirlpool Corporation is realized, Eligio and Liliana feel hope and relief. “We know our family is safe, that they can grow up and make plans and afford college. We don’t have to worry about moving because our rent goes up, our kids jumping from school to school.”

When asked what he does with the money he saves every month thanks to his solar system, he beamed. “Well,” he said, “for the first time, I’m able to save for my own retirement, and for my kids’ college.”

Habitat for Humanity’s BuildBetter with Whirlpool initiative is an expansion of Habitat’s existing BuildBetter program that will build more than 250 climate-resilient and energy-efficient homes across the country. The program will help hundreds of families in need of affordable housing over three years.