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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.

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.

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.