Neighbors Help Neighbors With Habitat Building Projects

The normally quiet suburban street in Rosenberg is filled with sweat, nails, loud drills, and excited anticipation in the air. Volunteers of all racial, religious, and economic backgrounds are lending a helping hand to those in need.

The volunteers are not pacifying those down on their luck, but helping them reach their way out by lending a helping hand in assisting families construct their own home.

According to Habitat for Humanity's Fort Bend chapter, 10 percent of Fort Bend's population is living below the poverty level, and 1,000 people in the county are homeless. Through partnerships with businesses, churches and schools, homes are built for local families.

Since 1992 Fort Bend's Habitat for Humanity has built 53 homes in the county and 62 in Honduras and other countries. Qualifying families are selected by a committee based on established criteria that does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed or ethnic background. In order to get the house, the family has to work at least 300 hours alongside volunteers on their own home.

One soon-to-be new homeowner, Blanca Iraheta, has been working on her house for a long time and hopes to see the construction completed in January 2011. She spoke little English, but the wide grin stretched across her face showed her excitement when she talked about her new home. Iraheta will receive a zero-precent interest mortgage over 20-30 years financed by The Fort Bend Habitat organization.

Not too far down the crowded street, neighbor Maria Aguilar also hopes to have a home built by Fort Bend's Habitat chapter. Like many other families in need of decent affordable housing, Aguilar is a partner family. By demonstrating willingness to become partners in the Habitat program and their ability to repay the no-interest loan, individuals like Aguilar receive affordable housing with monthly mortgage payments that are recycled into a revolving Fund for Humanity that is used to build more houses.

Even though Aguilar was not working on her own house on that particular day, she said she was happy just to be lending a helping hand.

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