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Habitat Builds in Pico Neighborhood

By Ann K. Williams
Staff Writer

August 23 -- In a new wrinkle on local affordable housing, Habitat for Humanity is coming to town to build five townhouses in the Pico Neighborhood this winter.

The groundbreaking at 19th Street just north of Pico Boulevard, tentatively scheduled for February, will mark the first time the non-profit ecumenical housing ministry has built homes in Santa Monica.

It coincides with a building “blitz” in the greater Los Angeles area led by former President Jimmy Carter which will culminate with public appearances and a symposium in November, 2007. Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA) plans to add 100 new homes next year to the 187 already built in the southland.

“I think just the fact that people have a home does something for their self-esteem, their independence,” Carter told HFH GLA. “They often get new ambition.

“They have seen success and they have seen a promise kept at least one time in their lives.”

Volunteers -- including the families selected for home-ownership -- will build or renovate the homes, which will then be sold to low-income families at no profit. The families will pay a mortgage that’s used to build new homes.

The units on 19th street will be 2 and 3-bedroom townhouses with parking and a common picnic and play area, Habitat officials said. Two will be Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “livable” and “accessible” compliant.

Like all affordable housing projects in Santa Monica, the construction will have to comply with the City’s “Green Affordable Housing Checklist,” which includes site orientation for solar energy capacity and the use of “green” building materials and energy-efficient appliances.

“Partner families” – those chosen for home ownership – must earn 30 to 50 percent of the area’s median income and be able to pay off a zero-interest loan. They must also donate 500 “sweat equity” work hours, building their own home or another Habitat home.

In addition, the City requires that the 19th Street homeowners come from Santa Monica, and at least one family must be in the City’s Section 8 program. (see story)

Starting Wednesday, there will be a series of meetings in the community to get the word out to low-income families and guide them through Habitat for Humanity’s application process.

Families who want to be considered must come to one of these meetings in order to be able to fill out an application for home-ownership.

For more information, including how to support Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, call (310) 323-4663 or visit its website at www.habitatla.org

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