For most families Christmas comes with a pile of brightly wrapped presents under a tree. However on Saturday, eight Burbank families received an early Christmas present in the form of new homes built by Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles.
According to Ruth Martinez-Baenen, Board Member of the City of Burbank Housing Corporation, and partner with Habitat for Humanity in the Burbank Keeler/Elliot Development Project, “Everybody deserves an affordable place to live.”
The project kicked off in March 2011, with the first walls raised in May 2011. More than 5000 volunteers participated in building the new homes, in partnership with the Burbank Redevelopment Agency, Lowe’s, The Walt Disney Company, Bernard’s, and Celebrating Homes. Each home was built using the highest quality construction standards, including energy efficiency meeting both Energy Star and LEED standards.
The effort resulted in the final delivery of a renovated two bedroom home (nicknamed the Centennial House), a duplex, and an additional five unit building.
“We are very blessed,” said Eliseo Atayde, new owner of house #6. “We deeply thank the City of Burbank Housing Corporation and Habitat for Humanity for making us part of this project.”
Erin Rank, President and CEO of the Greater Los Angeles area chapter of the Habitat for Humanity, noted that they have now completed nearly 400 homes in Los Angeles County.
“We’re excited to give residents of Burbank the opportunity of home ownership” said Rank, “The city is dedicated to making the community better. Habitat is just coming in to be a part of that.”
The dedication ceremony included short speeches by several project participants, including Chris Horan of Lowe’s, Craig Russell, The Walt Disney Company; Karen Alexander, Celebrating Home; Michael Cawlina; Bernards; and Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes.
Mayor Talamantes commended the project, adding “I am impressed with Habitat’s approach to construction projects, and the way they fully engage and involve the community. I would like to thank Habitat for partnering with us, changing the lives of these wonderful families, while adding to the city’s revitalization efforts.”
“Finally I have a home,” exclaimed Boutros, new owner of house #1, “It is really, really a dream come true.”
Father David Elias, of St Mary & St Athanasius Coptic Orthodox Church, provided a blessing for Boutros’ home, stating “it is incredible to see one of our congregation, one of our families, have a placed they can be comfortable in and actually consider a home.”
The Habitat for Humanity does not provide free housing, rather candidates apply in a competitive process for their homes. The Habitat for Humanity has basic requirements for partner families, including:
- Ability to pay a mortgage, including a history of steady employment
- Demonstrated need for adequate shelter
- Willingness to partner with the Habitat by investing at least 500 hours of their own “sweat equity” in the construction of their homes
If those requirements are met, and the family is selected, then they are eligible to purchase a Habitat home on a 30 year, no-interest loan.
Josue Atayde, son of Eliseo Atayade the new owner of unit #6 solemnly reflected “It really feels good to have the security of a home. I’ve always felt proud to be part of the Burbank community. I now have a strong desire to give back to the community, as they have given me so much.”
Learn more about the Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles at www.habitatla.org