ANAHEIM : Volunteers Finish Low-Income Homes

For the last three days, saws buzzed and hammers banged almost constantly on Patt Street. But hardly a neighbor complained about the 248 volunteers hustling to add the finishing touches to two new homes.

As part of an ongoing project to build houses for low-income families, Habitat for Humanity crews installed new floors, rolled out carpeting, and brushed on coats of antique white paint during a 72-hour "building blitz" to complete two three-bedroom condominiums. The effort started Friday and ended Sunday evening.

"We want to make sure these families have a new home by November," said project manager David Reed. "The only way to do that was to have as many people work as quickly as possibly."

By Sunday afternoon, the crews had completed most of their tasks, which included carpentry, plumbing, tile work and landscaping.

Habitat, which already has built 48 homes in Rancho Santa Margarita, selects homeowners based on need, Reed said. The families only have to pay for the cost of construction--about $55,000 to $60,000.

Though the condominiums have been built under strict budget constraints, each home has been personalized with ceramic tile in the kitchens and baths, customized wrought iron for the stairwells and special glazing on the windows to conserve energy, Reed said.

By November, Rodica and Daniel Jelev and their two sons will move into one of the units. The couple are Romanian immigrants, who have been saving for years to buy a home of their own. Right now, they rent a two-bedroom house that is too small.

On Sunday, Rodica Jelev swept sawdust and painted her own front door. "It is so unbelievable that we will move into our own place," she said. "It is too exciting to explain."

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