Meet Phillip and Heidi: Habitat Metro Denver's First ADU Owners

Aug. 11, 2020

Phillip and Heidi thought they'd have to wait many years before they could save enough money to buy a home in Denver. They were astonished to learn they could achieve this dream much sooner through Habitat for Humanity's affordable Homeownership Program. Not only did they qualify to purchase a four-bedroom home for their family of six, but they are also the proud owners of Habitat Metro Denver's first Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU), which is an additional one-bedroom home located on their property.

Phillip and Heidi are planning on starting a tradition on each of their kids' birthdays by marking their heights near a door frame in their new home. "This will give them security, letting them see how long they've been in a place, how much they've grown, and how far they've come," says Phillip.

"We were shocked to find out we were the first family with an ADU," said Phillip. "They did an amazing job building it, and we fell in love with it."

The goal of the ADU Program is to help homeowners have flexible living space. Phillip and Heidi are planning to use their ADU as a guest room for extended family's frequent visits, and to open it up for friends who are struggling with stability because of the pandemic.

Phillip and Heidi know firsthand what lack of space and stability feels like. Before purchasing their Habitat home, they were living in a cramped two-bedroom apartment with their four children—ages 3- 13—who were all sharing one bedroom. The situation was especially difficult during Colorado's stay-at-home order due to COVID. On a number of occasions, Phillip and Heidi's son had to shut himself in their bedroom so the younger children didn't disturb his online class.

"It was really challenging. We had always done something at least once a week just to get out as a family, and then we had to alter and adjust," said Phillip. "My daughter is almost 5, and my son is almost 4, so we taught them how to play board games or let them run around on the hill behind our complex with bubbles and water guns, trying not to go crazy on top of each other."

The experience made the family even more grateful to partner with Habitat.

"Having to be in quarantine in that apartment—we knew we just had to get through the rough patch and get where we're at now."

The best part for Phillip and Heidi has been seeing their kids' faces light up in a new home. The two oldest finally have their own rooms and a door they can shut. The two youngest are excited about their new bunk bed.

"Our daughter thinks she's a big girl because she gets to have the top bunk."

As Phillip and Heidi look ahead, the future brings hope and family traditions. Phillip plans to establish a tradition from his own childhood.

"On every birthday, I'm going to mark the kids' heights on the molding next to the door frame. This will give them security, letting them see how long they've been in a place, how much they've grown, and how far they've come.

"It's been a long road. We are very thankful for Habitat for Humanity."