Community Housing Network: Jack Dobrecki

Jack Dobrecki is 61 and has had two dreams come true. He’s now living his second dream—a home he owns. The home is one of 12 in the Springhill homebuyer down payment assistance project from 2002, receiving $156,000 in FHLB-I funds. Jack says that every morning since he moved into his house in September 2003 he wakes up with a smile. “It feels great—every day.”

His first dream was to be able to live outside the institution where he was sent at the age of 5. Living with many others who also had disabilities “was bad,” he says. Jack doesn’t remember life with his family before the institution. But he remembers the Oakdale Regional Center in Lapeer, the largest institution of its kind in Michigan, where he lived for most of his growing-up years.

He was 19 when his first dream came true and he was able to leave the institution. Jack can list a litany of supportive housing where he lived in the years following his release. It was during life in that string of housing situations when he first dared to dream about owning his own home. “I wanted to decorate my own house—and I wanted a cat!” he says with a broad smile, a twinkle in his eyes, and his feline companion, Garfield, curled up in his lap.

Jack either walks or rides his bike to his job as a dishwasher at a nearby bar and grill. In the summer, he grows all kinds of vegetables and tends to a number of flowering plants. His neighbors watch out for him, he says, as the man next door stops over and shares a few pleasantries.

Jack is proud of the life he has created with a worker coming two days a week to help him cook. He writes his own checks, keeps adding to his collection of crosses, and like to clean his tidy house, one of 12 in the homebuyer down payment assistance project from 2002.

Asked to give one word for what it means to own his own home, Jack says “happiness.” He is now living his dream—both of them.