For years, Clementine Alford has been helping homeless people transition into permanent housing, teaching them about paying utility bills and getting supplies to decorate.

Now, at 68, Alford has reached her own milestone: She has bought her first home.

“I’ve been waiting all my life. This is my dream, and now I have something to leave to my children,” Alford said Saturday after receiving a ceremonial key to her new home on McCabe Avenue.

She was one of three new homeowners welcomed to their new neighborhood in Northeast Baltimore, just east of York Road, where Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake has been working to remodel rowhouses and sell them at affordable prices with interest-free loans.

“For many people, this is really a dream come true. To be a part of that is huge,” said Lauren Hughes, a family services manager for Habitat. The nonprofit has already helped 10 families move into homes selling for between $110,000 and $130,000 in the neighborhood, and it has about a dozen more houses in the area that are slated for renovations, Hughes said.

Chenita James, 42, who moved into her house in March and was one of the new homeowners recognized Saturday, said she had a difficult path to homeownership. She said she was unable to afford her rent when it was raised to $1,800 a month, which forced her to stay with friends while she finished school.

“It was difficult. It was depressing,” said James, who is now a phlebotomist at Mercy Medical Center. When James initially applied for a Habitat home, she said, the organization turned her down because of her bad credit. She filed for bankruptcy and a few months later was able to reapply and was accepted to the program, she said.

“I’m excited. It feels good to pay your mortgage,” she said.

There are 34 vacant homes in the Woodbourne-McCabe neighborhood, according to city data. The average home price is about $42,000, according to Live Baltimore, a nonprofit that encourages home ownership in the city.

Behind a white fence decorated with murals by Habitat volunteers was a house in disrepair, its windows boarded up with weathered plywood. Several other houses on the street were missing roofs.

Habitat purchased its Woodbourne-McCabe homes through the city’s Vacants to Value program, which was created to reduce the number of city-owned vacant properties and encourage development.

Mayor Catherine Pugh spoke at Saturday’s ceremony, thanking Habitat for its efforts to revive city neighborhoods.

“We’re really grateful for Habitat for Humanity for what they’ve done for our city,” she said.

Habitat has worked on about 750 homes in the Baltimore area, officials said. Habitat is working in four other Baltimore neighborhoods: Brooklyn, Pigtown, Sandtown-Winchester and Mount Winans.

Alford is looking forward to her closing date, when she can start enjoying her new front porch.

“I really wanted a front porch so I can sit and watch my grandchildren,” she said.