Marian Hom and Tim Martin, interviewed July 25, 2023, via Zoom from their home in North Bend by Mary Martin
Tim was born and raised in Washington, graduating from Renton High School and Washington State University. After college he took a trucking job, which he ended up doing for 20 years as a commercial truck driver.
Marian was raised in New York State, moved to Los Angeles and then to Seattle. She is a fitness instructor and teaches classes at gyms in Seattle and Kirkland. When they met in 2016, Tim had recovered from his treatment for a cancer diagnosis of a non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2010.
They lived in Burien for six years where they experienced constantly increasing rent for the same poorly insulated apartment where it was extremely cold in the winter and especially hot in the summer. They looked for housing that they could afford to purchase, but banks told them that their income was just not enough to qualify for growing prices of homes in the Seattle area. Then in 2021 they experienced another setback when Tim’s cancer returned and he was unable to work. Marian took off work for a month to be his primary caregiver while he was in treatment. Again, the treatment was successful; Tim’s strength returned, and they began looking again for a permanent home.
When Marian saw an article in the paper about Burien approving a new Habitat for Humanity project, they went to the Habitat website and discovered that Habitat was building homes in several locations in King County. Like many people, they had thought that Habitat for Humanity “gave away homes for extremely poor families” but they learned instead that they were just the type of family that qualified to purchase a Habitat home. “Habitat really fills a niche in the housing market for people like us, people who just need a hand up.”
They were the last family selected for the Tyler Town homes in North Bend. If they had not been selected, they probably would have moved back to New York to live with Marian’s parents and given up on their dream of living in the Northwest. But instead, they began their Habitat adventure by working on the jobsite 20 hours a week, learning how to use tools and how to build their own home alongside their new neighbors-to-be.
Tim had been declared cancer free and for 18 months he was able to work on the building site, building his strength and his home. Marian’s job has flexible hours, so she also was able to adjust her work hours in order to work on the job site two days a week. Working on the building site together made all the new homeowners “very close. Now we know our neighbors. Something most people don’t experience anymore.” Tim says their time at the job site became their “date night.” It was a time and place every week where they knew they would be working together.
After moving into their new home this summer Tim and Marian feel they are living in “a house built with love.” Hiking and being outdoors in nature are healing activities that they both enjoy greatly, and they have found that their home’s location in North Bend is the perfect site for outdoor recreation options.
They also feel more involved in the world: Tim has already volunteered to drive the local food bank’s truck. But first they have another hurdle ahead of them: another month of intense cancer treatment. Again, Marian will take off work for a month to care for Tim during this time when he receives chemo infusions as part of a new clinical trial for his cancer. They will stay together in Seattle near the hospital for 30 days. While they are gone their new neighbors will watch over their home. To recover and heal after this round of treatment, they will be returning to their very own new home, their “sanctuary.”
Also in this issue of Self-Help Builder:
- Community Housing Improvement Program (CHIP): Pictures are worth a thousand words – a photo montage
- Hawaii Island Community Development Corporation: Through Blood, Sweat, Tears, Missile Threats & Lava Flows – a homeowner’s journey
- Housing America Corporation (HAC): Celebrating Homeownership Month and 2,000 Self-Help homes this year! (PDF)
- Housing America Corporation (HAC): Festeja HAC con más familias beneficiadas el Mes de la Vivienda Propia (Bajo El Sol)
- Kaua’i Habitat for Humanity: 125 affordable homes, 16 years in the making (Kaua’i News Now)
- NeighborWorks Sacramento: Celebrating life-changing achievements (PDF)
- Self-Help Enterprises: Welcome Home Celebration in Orosi! (Self-Help Enterprises)
- Self-Help Homes: A Little Story about my Family & I – a homeowner’s long journey
- Six County Association of Governments: In Their Own Words – a homeowner story
- South Central Community Action Partnership: Celebrating 100 homes – a homeowner’s experience
- Whatcom-Skagit Housing: Nine families move in, more than 700 completed (Lynden Tribune)