Having a house changed our lives

The Castaneda family on the steps of their new home, 2012.

House #14, Christopher and Yecenia Castaneda

June 2020–In 2012, Christopher Castaneda had just gotten out of school after earning his Associate’s degree in Diesel Mechanics at Texas State Technical College. He was living in a small, one-bedroom house with his wife, Yecenia, and three children, when he got the call from Habitat for Humanity of Greater Fredericksburg.

“Having a house changed our lives,” said Castaneda. “It gave us a roof over our heads. My daughters were my biggest concern. I wanted more space for them to grow up in.”

Castaneda now works for Pike Electric as a lineman, commuting to Austin daily. Yecenia just paused her job as a dental assistant in order to be at home with the couple’s newborn.

While living in their own home is a dream, Castaneda still needs to dispel misconceptions he hears from family and friends.

“People think we got a free house,” Castaneda said. “I had to explain that Habitat is an organization that helps families get a foot on the ground, or who are in a bad situation. We still have to pay the mortgage!”

And the taxes and insurance and maintenance. And any improvements, such as converting the “big dirt pit” into a grassy lawn complete with privacy fence for his children (“it’s pretty now”).

“My wife and I have been together for 16 years, ever since high school. We are still together, and I am very grateful. We have been up and down like all other families, but it helped us quite a bit to get this house. It made our family a whole unit, instead of worrying about a roof over our heads.”

They are both grateful for the support they received from the entire community.

“The people that did the building–I appreciate all the volunteer work, and the loving care that they put into the house. I wish they got more appreciation, because they busted their butts!”

It looks like the building may not be completed. With the arrival of their fourth child, the Castanedas are looking at converting closet space into another bedroom.

“We’re running out of space!”