Twenty families will get the chance to help build their own affordable homes in west Modesto's new Hope Village.
"This is the largest single subdivision we've ever built," said Anita Hellam, executive director of Habitat for Humanity Stanislaus.
The project will celebrate its groundbreaking at 10 a.m. Friday, and the public is invited.
The nonprofit agency paid about $640,000 four years ago for the two-acre site at the east end of Houser Lane, near Paradise Road and Martin Luther King Drive.
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Six one-story and 14 two-story single-family homes will be built there, ranging in size from 1,000 to 1,300 square feet. Each home will have solar panels and energy- efficient features that should almost eliminate electrical expenses.
All the three- and four-bedroom homes will have private yards, and some will have design features to accommodate those with physical disabilities.
The low-income families selected for Hope Village will be required to work 500 hours on the project. In return, they will be sold the houses at subsidized prices with interest-free loans.
While the homes will cost about $150,000 each, the families will pay about $100,000 to $125,000.
The additional funds will come mostly from federal sources, along with some state funds and donations from the Cowell Foundation and Mervin and Carmen Wolf of Modesto. Hellam said the city of Modesto also provided significant support.
Deeds to be restricted
Once built, deed restrictions will be placed on the homes to assure they remain affordable to low-income families for at least 20 years.
During that time, families who buy there will have mortgage payments that will be limited to no more than 30 percent of their income.
Hellam said some Hope Village families have been selected, but more low-income families are sought.
"We cannot build a house for every person who qualifies, so we have to be arbitrary in selecting those who are going to get the greatest bang from this investment," Hellam said. "We're looking for families who will make a commitment to a drug-free, crime-free lifestyle. And they must be willing to partner with us."
Only those who have decent credit histories and solid work records for at least the past three years will be considered. Those who have many debts will not be chosen.
"We're looking for people who are living and working in Stanislaus County," Hellam said.
They must be legal U.S. residents who have not been convicted of felony crimes or sexual offenses.
"We require they fully disclose their past," said Hellam, noting that credit, criminal and background checks are run on all applicants.
Families being screened
A couple hundred families have applied and are being screened. About 20 additional families will be picked for Hope Village and other Habitat building sites.
Since 1989, Habitat has built 30 homes in Stanislaus County. Hellam said construction on about 15 homes will begin this year, with 15 more homes scheduled for next year.
The first 10 Hope Village homes are expected to be finished by summer 2009.
To help fix up the neighborhood around Hope Village, Habitat is partnering with Modesto Junior College students on a renovation effort June 19-21. Federal funds will be used to repair homes owned by low-income families.
Hellam said volunteers will install new windows, security doors, motion-sensing safety lights, smoke detectors, fences and gates. Trees and shrubs will be planted. Trash will be removed. Two homes will get new roofs, and others will get items such as air conditioners and ramps for people with disabilities.
Volunteers 16 years and older are needed for that effort; call 575-4585, ext. 107.
Habitat also needs volunteers for its ongoing construction projects; call 575-4585, ext. 109.
Those interested in becoming Habitat homeowners can apply by calling 575-4585, ext. 111 or ext. 100. To donate money, call 575-4585, ext. 115 or ext. 105.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2196.