TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Forty-year-old Jesse Neal unpacked boxes and settled into his first home this week.
"I am excited. It's my first one. I've lived in an apartment for as long as I can remember. Probably since I was 25," said Neal.
Neal served in the U.S. Army for nearly four years and is the newest owner of a two-bedroom, one-bath home built by Habitat for Humanity.
"The one thing that COVID-19 has taught us, is that home is everything," said Habitat for Humanity Tucson CEO, T. VanHook.
Habitat for Humanity is a nonprofit focused on creating affordable housing for deserving individuals and families.
The organization is building a 19-home community called "Carters Court" in Flowing Wells, but they've faced setbacks.
"Home prices are rising, wages are staying stagnant and we're having difficulty getting commodities to build the houses," said VanHook.
VanHook said they have seen a big decline in volunteers during the COVID-19 pandemic, so building homes is taking more time.
"We have a serious housing crisis. We had one before COVID. It's really apparent during COVID when so many families don't have a safe place to stay," said VanHook.
A safe place to call home is something Neal said he will never take for granted.
"I just feel really blessed and fortunate to be here in the United States. God has blessed me with car, house and clothes, when most people don't have stuff," said Neal.
To learn more about volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in Tucson, click here.