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Last updated: Sat. Jun. 21, 2014 - 08:30 pm EDT

Houses go up at Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity's Fuller's Landing

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It has been two years in the making, but Thursday the first three homes for Habitat for Humanity clients were going up at Fuller's Landing, 4308 West Cook Road.

“Our mission statement says “We build homes, communities and hope,” how can we do all three? This subdivision was the vision we came up with for meeting all three of those criteria,” Justin Berger, chief executive officer for Fort Wayne Habitat for Humanity said.

Named after Millard Fuller, national founder of Habitat for Humanity, the first of three stages in the $11 million project will include 40 homes, with each costing $80,000. Right now the local agency has funding for 12 homes with 33 families lined up to help build, so there is a real need of more funding.

Potential homeowners who qualified go through an application and training process that requires their "sweat equity." The buyer must perform 300 hours of community service, as well as attend multiple classes on financial literacy and sustainable homeownership.

Buyers will have mortgages and must have jobs, and had to pass credit and background checks. The homes are not subsidized housing along the lines of Section 8.

Before the project was announced last year, Habitat has spent the previous 26 years building 167 homes scattered throughout the city, though primarily in the southeast quadrant, as Habitat for Humanity procured lots or properties that could be rehabilitated.

Habitat needs at least another million dollars to finish this first phase of Fuller's Landing. It took $1.4 million to get the project off the ground. Phase 1's cost, including the infrastructure, is about $4.5 million.

“It's days like today when all those days of effort pay off, when you see the families and volunteers out here working together,” Berger said.

Thursday morning, Blitz Builders, (BHB), a national nonprofit that has helped build affordable housing since 1997, and local volunteers, including employees from Indiana Michigan Power and BFGoodrich, were putting together and raising the exterior walls on three structures.

BHB had volunteers from many states through the Midwests pitching in, including some from as far away as Arizona, California and Massachusetts. Roy Zaborowski, chairman of the group, said it has 60-some people who have traveled here on their own dime to help with the build.

“Habitat is a transformation event that occurs among nonprofits," Zaborowski said. I don't know of any other nonprofit that changes peoples' lives the way this does. Habitat changes the whole structure of everything: the families, the volunteers and the community. Everything changes.”

In a Blitz build, Zaborowski said, you get to see that all happen in the course of a week and a half and it becomes a very emotional experience.

Among the local volunteers Thursday morning were three refugees, Kyu Kyu Maw, of Burma, who was stuffing insulation into some of the newly erected walls. Helping her with the task were Nian Vung, and Lian Khue, both from Malaysia. Their hope is that a year from now they will be building their own homes in Fuller's Landing.

The homes being built Thursday morning were for Karen Spain, Antwon Jones and Cathy Sitcler. Two of the three homes are expected to be completed within eight days.

ebogue@news-sentinel.com


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