Habitat for Humanity Arizona

   By Cassandra Thielen 3/7/03 

     For those continuing from the last piece (Event Day Analysis: South Mountain Village Part I & II), this is another agency offering “affordable housing.”  Currently, the city of Phoenix is the 6th largest U.S. city, with 1.2 million residents living in substandard housing. 

     In 1976, Millard and Linda Fuller started an international, non-profit agency to eliminate poverty housing.  To date, this organization has built over 120,000 homes in 83 countries.  Locally, there are five affiliates that work with Habitat to construct homes for local families.  Habitat is known mainly for building "in-fill" homes, scattered among non-Habitat homes. 

     A distinct feature of Arizona Habitat for Humanity is the concept of building a complete community.  As of June 2002, the “South Ranch” project includes a complete development of 195 homes including a community center, a children’s playground and homeowners association.    This community is located near 16th Street and Southern.   When our class visited this community on February 7, I noticed how quiet and relaxing this neighborhood was.  Never would anyone assume that this community was comprised solely of "affordable housing"  homes.  Considering the current problem with poverty housing and the fact that this community offers a children’s park, a community center with computers with internet access, a homeowners association and a quiet and inviting atmosphere, I’d consider this to be an ideal place to live for families seeking “affordable housing.” 

     There are many requirements in order to qualify for obtaining Habitat home ownership.  This is not a place for unstable or unwilling people.  The process for approval includes the following: 

     For a three bedroom home, the family will pay $93,000 and for a 4 bedroom home, the cost is $95,000 (a zero interest home loan).  The floor plans range from 1,250-1,400 square feet.  Each home comes with a whirlpool refrigerator and range (donated by Whirlpool), front yard desert landscaping, front and back patio, car port, and storage shed.  The monthly house payments include the principal payment, property taxes, homeowners insurance and home owners association fees.  The mortgage payments range from around $360 to $750/month. 

     In order to get a more in depth perspective on the Habitat process, we took part in constructing a Habitat home in the newly formed Villas Esperanza community (Village of Hope) on 15th avenue and Southern.  This community will resemble its predecessor, South Ranch, and will include 92 homes with a public children’s park, community center and home owners association.  For a little over 4 hours, our class adapted to the construction zone environment putting up dry wall for the ceiling of this home (with lots of help from Habitat construction foreman Romeo!).  I myself learned how to use a power drill, how to cut and measure dry wall, and how to use the brace to elevate large sheets of dry wall for the living room section of the home.  Our team completed the entire ceiling to the living room/dining room and one bedroom.  Despite the drywall dust in my hair and eyes, the film of dust on my skin, and the residue of dirt and grime under my finger nails, I would say it was a beautiful success.  I plan to offer more volunteer hours to Habitat in the future.  Almost anyone can volunteer to help either with the construction, fundraising, family services, committee membership, and merchandise coordination. 

Our class worked on the home designated for the Villescas family. 

This home is around 1,400 square feet and has a huge backyard. 

We used a brace to lift large pieces of dry wall for the living room ceiling.





In this picture, Gerold and I are finishing a section of dry wall for the last part of the living room.







Now that I look at this picture, it is actually kind of frightening.  Something about the power drill and sunglasses along with the seriousness of my posture is alarming.

This is what the ceiling looked like after we finished the living room.  Not bad in my opinion!

     After the living room and dinning room were complete, we moved onto one of the bedrooms located in the front of the house.  Romeo was our instructor.  Although he probably corrected over 20 of our mistakes, removing screws and patching holes, he supported our inexperience and ignorance with compassion and patience.

Even Dr. K participated in the action.  We had separate crews established in order to accomplish the most work in the least amount of time.  TEAM WORK!!!




This was not included in Romeo's instructions.  But after sharing time and hard work with this home, we decided to dedicate it. 

This is the identical ceiling of the living room in a finished house located a just west of our Habitat house. 


This is a completed home with the same floor plan as the house we worked on.

Here is a mini clip of us putting up the first pieces of dry wall for the living room.  You will need to have realplayer 8 to view the live footage. 

Movie of Habitat for Humanity construction day 2003

Visit Lindsay's website for another view of Affordable Housing

For more information on Habitat for Humanity in Arizona, click on link. www.habitataz.org


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