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Habitat for Humanity Finds New Condo Site

Habitat for Humanity plans to make good this spring on a promise to build condominiums for four families who have been waiting almost two years for their new homes.

The nonprofit organization originally planned--and held groundbreaking ceremonies--to build the homes on property it purchased from the county on Bonnie Beach Place.

Those plans had to be scrapped after soil tests showed the rear of the property was too steep for construction, Habitat spokeswoman Melody McCormick said.

“Everybody felt real horrible about it,” she said.

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The county is reviewing plans for the new site, at 222-228 Dickerson Ave.

The group hopes to begin construction in March.

Most of the labor and materials for the homes are donated, so their cost comes to about $55,000, with monthly mortgage payments of about $350.

The families, who are renting homes and apartments in the neighborhood, will be able to cut their monthly housing payments by about half.

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They were referred to Habitat for Humanity by Father Bob Juarez of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, who knows the families from his parish.

Jose Manuel Montenegro said the low cost of his new home will help his family of six cut down on the need to supplement his income with extra work.

He works full time as a drill handler and forklift operator at a manufacturing plant.

“More work might help, but it’s not that good for the family,” he said. “If you don’t take care of them now, you’ll have more problems later.”

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The four 1,000-square-foot, three-bedroom homes were designed to give each family some privacy with their own yard, McCormick said.

“The partners on the project were very committed to the families and they recognize that the families would like to stay in the East L.A. neighborhood, so it’s going to happen this year,” she said.

Construction, mostly by volunteers, is expected to take 12 weeks. Students from the Century Freeway Apprenticeship Program and Los Angeles Trade Technical College may help out, she said.

The families will each put in 500 hours of what the group calls “sweat equity,” which amounts to their down payment.

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They will paint, work on the electrical or plumbing systems, sweep or do whatever needs to be done on the property.

Families who qualify for the housing have low incomes and are living in substandard or overcrowded housing.

McCormick said the group may be able to build two units on the front end of the 134 N. Bonnie Beach Place property, but that has not been decided yet.

The organization also wants to build more affordable units in the East Los Angeles area, but single-family lots are hard to come by, so most projects will be multiple-family dwellings.

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Habitat for Humanity, which builds low-cost housing in inner cities nationwide and in Mexico, gained prominence through the involvement of former President Jimmy Carter.


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