SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - Charles and Vernita Brown are living the American dream. They bought a home with help from The Fuller Center for Housing, back in 2012.
And just days ago, they paid off that mortgage in full.
"It just shows what can happen when you give someone an opportunity to be a homeowner," says The Fuller Center director Lee Jeter.
The Browns feel they owe their success, from homelessness to home ownership, to God and a young Bossier Parish teen named Katy Watkins. “She’s the nicest person I’ve never met,” says Charles with tears in his eyes.
Katy was one of three Airline High School teens killed in an interstate accident in 2006.
The Fuller Center has built three of their 58 homes for low income families in Bossier City; the first of those was for the Brown family.
“If you look at my resume prior to this, everything on my resume says, you aren’t suppose to be here,” says Charles, admitting his path to home ownership was not an easy one. “It actually says we are supposed to be dead by now,” his wife added.
The two admit before they reached out to the VA hospital and others for help, they were using drugs and basically living out of a hotel room in 'The Bottoms' area of Shreveport.
“I was just sick and tired of being sick and tired. I was done,” explains Vernita, when they decided it was time to clean up their lives.
The Fuller Center for Housing built the Browns a home with help of Asbury United Methodist Church. The church decided to build that home in honor of one of their longtime church volunteers, Katy Watkins.
"It's humbling to be a part of a church and a Bossier community who wants to see hope happen in the world," says Reverend Matt Rawle of Asbury.
Since that first home in 2006, Asbury has teamed up with The Fuller Center two additional times.
They helped construct a second Katy build, and they joined The Simple Church to build a third home in Bossier City called the Molly Build.
It was named after another teen killed in that crash; Airline student Molly Reed.
A fourth home, called the Emily Build in honor of the third crash victim Emily Perdue, is expected to break ground later this year.
The Browns are the first Fuller Center homeowners in the Shreveport - Bossier City area to pay off their mortgage.
“So to be here now, sane, sober and safe, it’s miracle,” explains Charles.