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City Employees Roll Up Sleeves to Build Habitat for Humanity Homes

City employees and other community members help 11 families achieve the dream of home ownership.

employees gave up their Saturday to help put a roof over the heads of local families by installing shingles on an 11-unit condominium project being built through Habitat for Humanity. The project is part of the city's partnership with Habitat for Humanity to help create more opportunities for affordable housing.

Eleven city volunteers joined other community members to put in a full day's work on the condo project at 2578 Roosevelt St. in the Carlsbad Village. The project is expected to be completed by early summer of 2011.

"I'm trying to instill in my son that volunteering is very important. You never know, you can change somebody's life. If you can't give money, give your time," said Kelly Brooks, a public works inspector with the city's Property and Environmental Management Department.

Brooks said she found the experience so rewarding—especially spending time with her city colleagues and working alongside two of the future owners of the condos—that she plans to continue volunteering on the project during her lunch hours.

 Specialist Mike McFadden said Saturday marked the first time he has volunteered on a Humanity for Humanity project, but it won't be the last.

"I will do more of these obviously. It was a great experience all the way around, I'm kicking myself for not doing it sooner," McFadden said.

Under Habitat for Humanity's rules, people who buy the homes with the help of zero-interest loans must also help build them, with each adult in a household required to contribute 250 hours of sweat equity. On Saturday, two women who will live in the condos took part in the work.

Tonya Rodzach, an arts education coordinator with the city's , said "actually building the homes that people are going to live in, and with them being there, it was a pretty rewarding experience." 

To qualify for homeownership under the Habitat program, applicants' income must fall within a predetermined range, and they must have a good credit history.  The homeowners' mortgage payments go back into a Habitat for Humanity fund which is used for future construction projects.

In the case of the Carlsbad project, called Roosevelt Gardens, the city redevelopment agency had purchased the property with the goal of using it for housing for low-income households, said Debbie Fountain, the city's Housing and Neighborhood Services director.

The city contributed about $1.5 million toward the project, which includes the purchase price of the land and partial funding of the construction. Habitat raised the rest of the construction funds, Fountain said.

She added that this project marks the first time the city has worked with Habitat for Humanity, although Carlsbad has a stock of about 2,100 units of affordable housing that includes a mix of rentals and privately owned homes. 

Those interested in volunteering with Habitat for Humanity can visit the group's website at sdhfh.org or call 619-283-4663.

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