DanvilleSanRamon.com

Perspective - June 1, 2007

Homes sweet homes

Five little houses are on display in Alamo Plaza that are cute as can be. Actually one is a surf shack, and another could be a filling station. Builders Lennar, KB Home and Centex constructed three of them; PG&E built the one that uses solar energy; and the Habitat All Women's Crew put up the old-fashioned tiny Victorian. All five will be auctioned off June 16 to raise money for Habitat for Humanity East Bay.

This organization works to give low income families with children a chance at homeownership and is an independent associate of Habitat for Humanity International. Habitat East Bay has built 180 single-family homes in Contra Costa and Alameda counties since its founding in 1988, plus funded the construction of more than 400 homes overseas. Its most recent project was a 22-home development in Livermore. No-interest mortgage payments from the partner families are reinvested by Habitat to fund the construction of its next homes.

The families earn their homes through hundreds of hours of "sweat equity." They work on the actual construction plus attend workshops on budgeting, credit repair, conflict resolution and home maintenance, repair and landscaping, so they will have the skills to capitalize on their new start. Also, an average of 150 volunteers participates in the Habitat East Bay program every week, working on construction as well as fundraising.

Habitat East Bay has a 2007 budget of $14 million, and it proudly reports that almost 92 percent of its funds go to home building and program services. The homes are built with volunteers and generous donations, such as the playhouses on display in Alamo. These imaginative little structures would be great in a yard or at a preschool or a daycare so hopefully folks will bid generously. What better cause than helping hardworking people find decent, affordable housing.

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