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High Place West: The Bayu Family

The happiness of their home at High Place West in Santa Monica, Calif., is literally a world apart from Tesfaye and Martha's native country of Ethiopia. "It was hard to live there," says Tesfaye.

"You really don't have freedom. Even though Ethiopia is where I'm from, I feel like this is my country."

Before the Bayu family moved to High Place West, Tesfaye paid much more for rent and endured a long commute to his kids' school, driving an hour and a half each way. Now, their school is just five minutes from home. Tesfaye and Martha have confidence in their children's teachers. "The school here is very good," says Tesfaye. "I know they're getting the best."

Living in a place they can afford has created a solid foundation for Tesfaye and his family as they build their life in the United States. "When I pay rent, I never feel like it's a payment," he says. "I feel like this is my home."

Serviam Gardens: The Lee Family

Throughout his life in South Korea, Abraham Lee wore many hats—soldier, banker, steel worker, business owner and devoted spouse.

When he came to the United States, he added a new one—immigrant. Starting with very little money, Abraham and his wife opened a dry cleaning business in New York. His wife passed away in 1997 and when Abraham retired a few years later, he found it difficult to make ends meet on Social Security. Abraham eventually fell in love again and married Elizabeth, his current wife. Elizabeth’s work as a music instructor helped the couple support their modest lifestyle, but when the economy collapsed, Elizabeth lost her job and financial struggles returned.

Then the couple heard about Serviam Gardens through friends who had seen an advertisement. Serviam Gardens provides 243 green, affordable apartment homes for seniors, and will include a 31,000-square-foot garden to be shared with a neighbourhood school.

They applied, but never thought they’d have the opportunity to move into the apartments. When their application was accepted, Abraham called it “a dream come true.”

Abraham and Elizabeth enjoy their new green home, which has sustainable, cost-efficient features and appliances. Most importantly, Elizabeth and Abraham enjoy living among people who love their home and community as much as they do.

Miller's Court: Tracy Baker

After graduating from Baylor University in Texas, Tracy Baker wanted to move to Baltimore. She wasn’t sure, though, if she could afford living there on a first year teacher’s salary. Then Tracy learned about Miller’s Court, an affordable green mixed-use community in Baltimore, especially designed for teachers.

Once a long-vacant tin box factory, Miller’s Court now bustles with energetic educators and a popular ground-floor café. In addition, part of its office and retail space rent at a reduced rate to education-focused nonprofit organizations, such as Teach for America, that serve Baltimore City Public Schools.

To Tracy’s surprise, she is pursuing her dream as a first-grade teacher and able to rent an apartment in a city with a high cost of living. What’s more, Tracy feels safe at Miller’s Court, thanks to the thoughtful management staff and supportive community of friends and colleagues. “After an exhausting day at work,” says Tracy, “it’s nice to come home to that peace of mind.”

MakeRoom Learn more about the rental housing crisis at
MakeRoomUSA.org