U.S. Air Force veteran, mom receives rental house donation

Jessica Johnson and son Jay Johnson, 3, enjoy their new home in Litchfield Park.

Jessica Johnson, who was honorably discharged as a senior airman after serving the U.S. Air Force for four years, is reentering civilian life seamlessly thanks to local development company Christopher Todd Communities and its philanthropic program, A New Lease on Life.

The program, which was created to provide a helping hand up to one person or one family at a time, is currently focusing its efforts on transitioning service members. Through a partnership with Vets’ Community Connections (VCC) Maricopa, an organization that connects veterans with resources, Christopher Todd Communities gives one veteran a new home in each new single-family rental home community it opens.

Johnson, who moved into Christopher Todd Communities on Camelback in Litchfield Park in mid-July, is the company’s third recipient since the program’s inception in 2017.

“Christopher Todd Communities Foundation really wanted to have an impact with veterans, and they didn’t know what that looked like,” said Joanna Sweatt, VCC Maricopa project coordinator.

“We worked with their team to create the program. We wanted it to be a hand up, not a hand out. We decided that providing a home on a discounted, step-rent-increase every year allows a veteran to be empowered. They can save money, get out of debt they’ve acquired up to this point, and leverage the goals they have,” Sweatt said.

Johnson, who will receive one year’s free rent followed by two years of reduced rent, emerged as the perfect candidate for the home donation based on her plan to pay it forward, said Chad Bowman, Christopher Todd Communities VP of operations.

“All of our candidates are already serving in the community and are doing amazing things. But that plan of continuing to pay it forward really becomes a deciding factor. With Jessica, it was clear her plan to pay it forward was great,” Bowman said.

Having veterans like Johnson in the community is a win-win situation, Bowman said.

“We feel really blessed and honored to be able to offer this to anyone. It’s always interesting to me, as you try to help other people, how it ends up just serving you. As a community, we see that. They serve the residents that live here. They enhance the community. It really comes back to bless us having them here,” he said.

Johnson, who is a mother and wife and whose father is ill, said her new home is going to alleviate a financial burden for her family.

“It’s amazing that they do something like this for the veteran community — to be able to work my way up. I’m waiting to start a job right now. It’s so awesome to be able to do that and to know that I’m going to be able to afford my rent and be able to save money at the same time,” Johnson said.

“My parents live right down the street. I’ll be able to help my mom while she’s taking care of my dad. I’m just so overwhelmed. I’m so happy to be able to move into this house and give my son something that he really deserves. I’m just very, very grateful for it.”

To learn about eligibility requirements and apply for A New Lease on Life, visit christophertoddproperties.com/our-giveback.