Community Impact Stories


Making Smith Hill her home,

In 2000, Ivy Martinez and her two young sons Andre (10) and Carlos (3) moved into a newly renovated apartment at 306 Douglas Avenue. She was a single mom raising her boys the best she could. She worked hard while her boys attended school and enjoyed the neighborhood. The then executive director, Ed Neubauer was working with Rhode Island School of Design students to design modular homes to be built in Smith Hill. One of them was to be placed on a lot located at 171 Chad Brown Street. After a conversation with her eldest son who asked, “Mommy why don’t we have our own house”? , Ivy explained to Andre that they did. But Andre insisted it wasn’t their own since they live above and below other people. He wanted his own home.

At the same time, the CDC was soliciting community members to buy homes. Ivy was approached about the possibility of buying the house. She insisted that she could not buy a house at this time in her life. The CDC worked with Ivy through training classes and exploring city resources. Eventually, she learned that she could indeed buy the house. For the next six months she watched the progression of the construction from her bedroom window. Ivy was engaged in the progress and was an integral part of the design process. By choosing window styles, paint colors, countertop and floor finishes, she was empowered with this process, never realizing that this dream of homeownership would occur so quickly.

On June 2nd, 2002, exactly 15 years ago, Ivy, Andre and Carlos turned the key to the front door of their own home. Today, Ivy, Andre, Carlos, and her husband still enjoy their home. As the CDC has expanded its services to the community, Carlos, now 18, continues to be engaged with the community by being employed during the summer with our young adult Stewardship program.