With gifts at their feet symbolizing prosperity and shelter, the families gathered on a small stage in south Sacramento to take their final step toward homeownership. Four sets of keys jangled in the palm of Ken Cross, chief executive officer of Sacramento Habitat for Humanity. The families were not only about to unlock a new front door, but they also hoped to open a world of stability and home affordability that was once foreign.
It’s a scene that’s now hit the century mark. On Saturday morning, Sacramento Habitat for Humanity dedicated four new homes: its 99th through 102nd. Sacramento Habitat for Humanity has assisted low-income local families in building affordable homes and guided them toward ownership since 1985.
“We take hundreds of applications each year,” Cross said. “This whole program shows that you can build houses that are affordable, and houses that are ‘green,’ for people who might not otherwise be able” to buy a home.
The Sacramento chapter is an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International, a nonprofit Christian organization that builds homes for low-income families using volunteer labor. The two-story LEED-certified homes dedicated Saturday are approximately 1,400 square feet each and tucked into a neighborhood across from the Florin light-rail station.
The houses are part of a 14-home neighborhood overseen by Sacramento Habitat for Humanity known as the Indian Lane project. Sacramento Habitat for Humanity received more than $800,000 to develop the land from Proposition 1C, a legislative bond act to fund lower-income housing in urban areas near public transportation. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provided an additional $160,000.
Saturday’s dedication attracted a number of Sacramento elected officials, including Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Rep. Doris Matsui, Assemblyman Roger Dickinson and Councilman Jay Schenirer.
Families seeking to have a home built through Sacramento Habitat for Humanity must first undergo an income, background and credit check. If selected, the house is sold at cost to the families with a no-interest, 30-year loan. The average mortgage for a Sacramento Habitat for Humanity home is $125,000.
Cross said there has never been a foreclosure on a home built by Sacramento Habitat for Humanity.
“We’re very vested to make sure the people are a good risk,” he said.
Selected families must also commit to 500 hours of “sweat equity” to help construct the house. For Phuc Thien – a married father of two sons who will soon move from a cramped apartment with a perpetually broken bathroom – that meant banging his thumb with a hammer and falling into a ditch that would become the backyard of his home.
Steven Vue, who will live in home No. 100 with his wife and five sons, worked on the house during his days off as a Paratransit driver. He helped the volunteer construction force with laying concrete, framing and other jobs.
Working on the house gave Vue a break from his current situation. He had previously rented a house for eight years, but when the home went into foreclosure, Vue said he was evicted and his family was given three days to pack up and move out. They went to stay with his in-laws. Fourteen family members were crammed into a four-bedroom house, with Vue’s family taking over the living room.
“We had nowhere to go,” he said. “The kids were sleeping on the floor or trying to squeeze in with us.”
He’ll soon enjoy much more elbow room. Inside the modest four-bedroom house, with its new-carpet smell and freshly painted walls, Vue is ready to build a more stable life for his family.
“It’s so much better than before,” he said. “It feels great.”
Source: Sacramento Bee