WSVN 7 News: Homeless Family Receives New Home in Coconut Grove

A South Florida family who was once living in a car is now living the American dream. A local organization helped the Tavarez family go from homeless to homeowners after they faced their fair share of hardship.

Joanne and Jose Tavarez got to see the inside of their new house in Coconut Grove for the first time, Friday. The tears flowed as the couple saw how beautifully their new home was furnished by American Signature Furniture.

The 1,400 square foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom house was designed to make it feel like home from day one. They were overwhelmed by the generous gift that they could barely speak. It has been a hard road for them, but now they are in a new house that makes them happy, they will do what they can to maintain it and keep it that welcoming and safe space for the whole family. Most importantly, it seems that they would go to lengths to make this place cozier. Though they might be a bit short on cash, they will perhaps make use of the Internet to find what affordable d├ęcor items they can use to make it more like home. Who knows, they might come up with ideas of using different styles of neon signs, wall stickers, and hangings to transform the rooms. Yes, it might be difficult for them to do this kind of decoration all by themselves if they have not done it before, but it would not impossible.

Anyway, besides these, they also might need to take care of their utility services — hopefully, for that, they have electricians and plumbing services on speed dial for any issues that come up to keep things ticking over.

Ten years ago, the family had no place to call home after Jose developed diabetes. The illness damaged his vision, and he lost his job as a career truck driver. “We were homeless. I have five children, my husband, myself. We saw ourselves sleeping in a van,” said new homeowner Joanne Tavarez. Police eventually intervened and took the family to a shelter that put them on the path from homelessness to homeownership. The police had ensured that enough help was available to make this shift happen smoothly. Clothes, luggage, and other belongings were also believed to be taken care of, while shifting to the new home. The help of moving companies Winston Salem was likely taken to haul the luggage from the sleeping van to the new home to remove the stress from the already distressed family.

Miami nonprofit Carrfour Supportive Housing helped Joanne with job training. “Everyone comes to us with a different story,” said Stephanie Berman of Carrfour Supportive Housing. “What unifies them is their hope for a new start.”

The training helped Joanne land a position as a property manager. “We took benefit of all their programs, everything they offered, until we are finally here,” Tavarez said. “It took us a while, but here we made it.”

Now the family literally has a new lease on life to go along with their new home. “Homeownership is the way to build wealth in this country, the way our system is set up, so homeownership helps families build wealth and move forward,” said developer Arden Shank.

“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Tavarez said. The Tavarez family has already managed to put three of their children through college.