Local Nurse Realizes American Dream of Homeownership

The Payton family has a new house in Lynwood thanks to Habitat for Humanity and Edison International.

Nikki Payton knows dreams can come true. For years, she lived in substandard living conditions. Most recently, she shared a small, two-bedroom apartment with seven people.

Payton works as a licensed vocational nurse where she helps children suffering from severe emotional issues. As a single mother of three, she dreamed of purchasing a house where her children could feel safe, but was always outbid when she tried to buy a home.

But now, home is where Payton’s new story begins. Recently, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles dedicated a seven-home development on Magnolia Avenue in Lynwood where she was a recipient of a two-story home with three bedrooms and two-and-a-half bathrooms.

“Without the financial or volunteer support, we would not have been able to reach our dream of homeownership,” she said.

Habitat LA partners with families and individuals in need to build sustainable and affordable housing. The homeownership program is designed to assist low-income, first-time homebuyers.

Habitat homes are sold at no profit and financed with affordable loans. In addition to a down payment and a monthly interest-free mortgage, Payton contributed hundreds of sweat equity hours toward building her new home. She now knows how to frame walls, lay tile and paint. 

“I loved putting in sweat equity hours and can say I helped build my own home,” she said.

Habitat LA also taught Payton financial literacy, estate planning, emergency preparedness, family wellness and conflict resolution through its Family Investment Education Program.

In 2014, Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison, provided a grant of $50,000 toward the Lynwood Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative for the Magnolia Avenue project and Family Investment Education Program. Part of this grant went toward the Payton home and nearly 200 Edison International employees volunteered more than 1,300 hours at the Magnolia Avenue site.

Marian Lafferty, a senior business analyst in SCE’s Transmission and Distribution organization, volunteered twice at the project site and helped with the roofing on Payton’s house.

“The dedication was a bit of an emotional experience for me,” said Lafferty. “I felt proud to be part of something bigger than myself. And it was fun to see the families excited for the next phase of their lives to begin.”

As for Payton, she never knew people and companies took their own time to volunteer and help build homes on behalf of Habitat.

“Thank you for taking your precious time to come out and sweat with the rest of us,” she said.

Payton now has peace of mind knowing that her children have their own safe space. She’s looking forward to buying a new washer and dryer. And her daughters can’t wait to decorate their bedrooms and play in the yard.