Local Affiliate Marks World Habitat Day
Group also set to announce plans for Santa Clarita Habitat for Humanity project.
Joining hundreds of Habitat for Humanity affiliates across the country, the chapter serving the San Fernando and Santa Clarita valleys will celebrate World Habitat Day on Oct. 5 by the raising the symbolic wall for a new project in Pacoima.
To further mark the celebration, Habitat for Humanity, SF/SCV will publicly announce that it has opened escrow on several adjacent Santa Clarita properties which it plans to develop, according to Bill Kennedy, Santa Clarita Planning Commission Chairman and board member of the local affiliate.
“Many local community partners are already lined up to pitch in when Habitat begins building here,” said Kennedy, adding that Habitat initially plans to build 12 new, single-family detached homes in a single phase. “That means at least 12 Santa Clarita families, already neighbors in our community, will join dozens of others in the San Fernando Valley to realize the American dream of home ownership.”
The properties in escrow are side-by-side in the Newhall redevelopment area on Kansas Street, just off of Lyons Avenue. The homes are proposed to be built as duplexes, similar to the American Beauty Homes so well known in the Santa Clarita Valley.
“Recent reports paint a grim picture about the lack of affordable housing for workers in the L.A. region, so it is fitting that we can mark World Habitat Day with news that Habitat is providing solutions right here at home,” said Bob Kellar, Santa Clarita Mayor. He added that “provision of affordable housing is one of our top five community development priorities.”
Kathy, a single mother who fled war-torn West Africa with her children, nieces and nephews, will be one of the recipients of the Habitat solution in Pacoima. Never in her wildest dreams did Kathy imagine she could own a home. Even here in America, where she works as a nurse’s aid at the Woodland Hills Motion Picture Home, Kathy frequently works two shifts each day just to make ends meet.
But, “dreams can come true,” she claims, and on Oct. 5, that reality will move one step closer for Kathy and 16 other families.
Symbolic of the “sweat equity” required of all Habitat homeowners, Kathy will represent the newest Habitat homeowners-to-be when she helps to raise the first wall on the next 17 homes in Pacoima – Phase 2 in Habitat’s 61-home Pacoima neighborhood project. Congressman Howard Berman, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will speak on his own groundbreaking legislation to protect refugees and come to the aid of families suffering due to global crises.
“The Pacoima project reflects the values at the heart of Habitat for Humanity’s World Habitat Day theme for 2008: ensuring that families have long-term tenure security, and that they can use that to improve their lives for generations to come,” said Jonathan Reckford, CEO of Habitat for Humanity International, which is headquartered in Americus, Georgia.
The Pacoima project represents the supportive neighborhood model that provides housing to hard working, low-income Americans from around the world -- like Kathy – many of whom were displaced from their native countries due to war or poverty, according to Jack Shine, board chairman of Habitat for Humanity, SF/SCV. He points to this community as a unique model in the Habitat world, one which provides “a portal to supportive services and opportunities for the future” for the families that live there.
Habitat for Humanity, SF/SCV builds homes in small neighborhood settings that include services to teach self-sufficiency and promote advancement for future generations.
“We build affordable homes and provide them with mortgages at 0% interest to working families who are at or under 50% of average income,” Shine said. “Our communities are built around a model that requires sweat equity and provides supportive services, going well beyond traditional affordable housing. This is a new model, distinguishing our affiliate both in size and outcomes.
“This model literally lifts the top off the ‘concrete ceiling’ that impairs the lives of the working poor and limits the future of their children,” Shine added.
Kathy, Congressman Berman and Los Angeles City Councilman Richard Alarcon are all expected to speak at the World Habitat Day celebration. The formal program will start at 9:30 a.m., and will be followed by the raising of the first wall. Hundreds of volunteers, families and friends of Habitat are expected to attend the ceremony at 12543 Pierce Street, Pacoima 91331.
Habitat for Humanity, SF/SCV was founed in 1990 as an affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. The affiliate serves North Los Angeles City and County, including the Antelope Valley. It is locally run, independent, and a 501(c)3 non-profit organization incorporated in the State of California. Habitat for Humanity, SF/SCV will celebrate its 100th home dedication in 2009, joining a small handful of affiliates out of over a thousand nationwide to have reached this milestone.