Twenty-two months after ground broke on a shrub-covered parcel of land Oct. 1, 2011, the Chavez, Erickson, and Jeffries families are moving into their brand-new homes on Blake Lane in Scotts Valley.
The trio of 1,300-square-foot townhouses represents the 35th, 36th, and 37th affordable homes built in Santa Cruz County by Habitat for Humanity’s local division.
According to Resource Development Director Beth Bowman, the homes are the result of more than 15,000 hours of volunteer labor — including more than 1,700 hours of “sweat equity” by the families themselves.
“It was a real labor of love for the community,” Bowman said. “Three townhomes at once is a big project for Habitat for Humanity.”
The homes were built using donated materials and donations and are sold to qualifying lower-income families for the cost of the materials and permits with a zero-interest mortgage.
In a previous Press-Banner article, Bowman said that the cost of building each home was about $330,000.
As part of the agreement, each family agreed to 500 hours of work on the homes themselves as well, better known as “sweat equity.”
“It’s so gratifying,” said Rachel Chavez, one of the new homeowners. “I helped build this house, so I’m going to take care of it even more.”
Bowman said that the sweat equity allowed the to-be neighbors to get to know one another and become friendly before even moving in.
“They’ve known each other for more than a year,” she said. “There’s a bond there already.”
While the official move-in day was Thursday, Aug. 1, a ceremony was held at the site of the new homes on July 20, wherein the volunteers and contributors were recognized, and each of the three families was presented with a carved wooden box that contained the keys to their new homes.
For Chavez, moving into her new home with her son and daughter represented a new beginning.
“It was a true blessing,” she said. “As a single parent, never thought I could own a home.”
Chavez said her family was living in Corralitos with relatives in the wake of a divorce when she was chosen for one of the homes. She said that she almost didn’t apply when she heard that more than 40 families had applied.
“I was in shock because I thought I didn’t have a chance,” she said. “There’s so many families that deserve a home.”
Chavez said that she was excited for her 12-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son to have their own rooms after the family had shared a single room.
“It’s unreal,” she said. “It’s the light at the end of the tunnel for me.”
For more information about Habitat for Humanity, visit www.habitatsc.org
To comment, email reporter Joe Shreve at email@example.com, call 438-2500 or post a comment at www.pressbanner.com.