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The Robinson Family

Tomlin Robinson has lived in Topeka for 25 years. Her housing challenges began when she moved out of her parents’ home to live on her own. Her financial situation was not good and she said the personal relationships she had at that time “didn’t help.” Dealing with other renters, unannounced landlord visits, and unaddressed rental home repairs were just some of the challenges. Working full-time, trying to pay her rent, and take care of her three kids, it all felt like she was "spinning her wheels." Tomlin was ready to let go of past failures and start building a brighter future for her family. That turned out to be easier said than done. Tomlin found it hard to get out of the cycle of working 40 hours or more a week, only to be left with a few dollars at the end of the month. She found it next to impossible to save up enough cash to put a down payment on a house, but she had faith.


Tomlin, who has three sons and works as a phlebotomist, learned from a friend about Topeka Habitat for Humanity and the opportunity for homeownership. She applied and was accepted as a Habitat Homeowner in 2012 and her house was constructed in 2013. She completed her “sweat equity” hours by working on her home, as well as on the homes of others. It was a family effort involving her father, her cousins, and her children. Tomlin said that while it was hard work, it was actually a lot of fun.


Home ownership can be nerve-racking according to Tomlin, and she’s glad Topeka Habitat prepared her for the realities of paying a mortgage and taking care of a property. She said that while it is stressful, it’s also exciting. “I don’t have to rely on a landlord to take care of problems. I can fix things on my own as quickly as I want. It’s such a feeling of freedom that I’ve never experienced before and it’s one of the greatest perks to living in my own home. I have immense contentment from taking on big responsibilities with confidence.”


Tomlin’s home is ranch-style with three bedrooms. It has a fenced backyard where her children play with the dog. She also has a front yard big enough to enjoy summertime parties. She said, “I’ve never had a house that enabled me to have so many friends come over for food and celebration. It didn’t take long for me to fall in love with the house.” 


Tomlin said the best aspect of her new home is the neighborhood. “My neighbor across the street has kids that attend the same school as mine and we’re always getting together to talk about our children and how well they’re doing,” she said. Another neighbor lost her husband a few years ago and Tomlin meets with her occasionally to talk and drink tea. A great friend of Tomlin’s, who also happens to be her babysitter, also lives down the down the street.


“We’re like family,” said Tomlin. “We all take great care of each other which creates an environment that makes me feel safe and secure.”  

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