Over thirty friends, family members, community leaders, and reporters gathered in front of a seemingly unassuming vacant property on North 14th St. It was Christmas Day, 2015 and the energy in the crowd was palpable. Everyone was waiting to share the good news with Dakeela Burkes and her family – the news of a new home.
Ms. Burkes was in ACTS Housing’s rent-to-own program, and was set to close on the home she had been renting for nearly a decade when it caught fire six days before Christmas. The house was unrecoverable – with an estimated $100,000 worth of damage. Immediately after the fire, Coretta Herring, ACTS Housing counselor, contacted Alderman Hamilton and began making plans — they wanted the Burkes family to be home for the holidays. They worked out a deal to get Ms. Burkes a new home, closer to her daughter’s school, for $1 in addition to the cost of minor renovations. The family is scheduled to move in in February after work is completed.
On Christmas Day, friends, family and community leaders including: ACTS Housing team members, Alderman Hamilton, Mayor Barrett, Dr. Smith with Rufus King, the SDC, and Riverworks came together to shower the Burkes family in gifts and surprise them with the new home. Everyone in the crowd was overcome with joy, and Burkes was speechless, “To see everybody coming together to help, I can’t express how I feel.” Herring, who originally planned the surprise thanked everyone who came out, saying, “It takes all of us working together.”
The Burkes family is thankful, but knows this is the beginning of a journey, “[There is] more hard work to come raising my babies, making things work out for them” said Ms. Burkes.