Jim Carney

The Habitat for Humanity house that had sat empty for months is now home to a homeless Akron couple and their five children.

The marriage of pairing a homeless family with Habitat is a first for Summit County.

Two agencies came together Friday to provide a home for Bobby and Rasheda Jackson and their children. The family was left homeless when their rental home was condemned.

They lived out of their two cars and also in temporary shelter provided by Akron-area churches.

A phone call connected them to Family Promise of Summit County, a nonprofit group that provides shelter for homeless families through a large network of congregations and then works to find more permanent housing.

A subsequent phone call from Jeff Wilhite, Family Promise’s executive director, to Rochelle Fisher, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, hatched the idea that a Habitat home built last year during a blitz by the Homebuilders Association Serving Portage and Summit Counties would be a perfect fit for the family.

So after 99 days of living in classrooms and fellowship halls in numerous congregations through the Family Promise program, the family was presented a Bible and a set of keys to the house at a ceremony Friday at the home on Akron’s Ardella Avenue.

The couple still has to put in Habitat’s required 250 hours of “sweat equity” over the next 18 months by helping to build homes and make lease payments. Once the work requirement is complete, they will make payments on a 30-year, interest-free loan for the $80,000 home.

“Today is overwhelming,” said Rasheda Jackson, who is taking part in the Asset Program at the Akron Urban League geared to helping participants get back into the workforce.

“We are a praying family,” said her husband, Bobby Jackson, who operates a landscaping firm and also works in the security business. “I knew God was going to move in our favor.”

The couple and their children, Sahaylee Davis, 12, Makayla Davis, 10, Alonia Jones, 8, Emonie Davis, 4, and Bobby Jackson Jr., 16, spent their first night in the home Friday night.

The Jacksons praised the work of the two agencies and everyone who helped them move from being homeless to eventual homeowners.

“I couldn’t sleep the last couple of nights,” Rasheda Jackson said.

Fisher, whose organization at the end of this building season will complete eight new homes bringing its total to 182, said the collaboration with Family Promise was a “marriage made in heaven.”

Wilhite, former deputy mayor of the city of Akron, said the new home in East Akron is “a great start” for the family.

The Rev. Mark Ward, who moved into a Habitat home down the street a year ago and whose Zion Temple Baptist Church is located on the street, said things always work out better “when we work together.”

Carmine Torio, president of the homebuilders group, said he was thrilled the Jacksons were moving into the house his group helped build a year ago.

“This house has a great family to make it a home,” he said.

For more on Habitat for Humanity of Summit County, visit www.hfhsummitcounty.org or call 330-745-7734. For more on Family Promise of Summit County, visit www.familypromisesc.org or call 330-253-0801.

Jim Carney can be reached at 330-996-3576 or jcarney@thebeaconjournal.com.