Porto's Bakery employee Gonzalo Saabedra, his wife and four children have lived in a cramped one-bedroom apartment for 12 years in Glendale.
The small apartment limited the family's freedom to play freely or have alone time, but Saabedra and his family will now have a solar-powered home to call their own, and the open space they need.
“Providing my family a home has been my father's dream since the beginning,” his 18-year-old daughter, Bianka Saabedra, said.
The Saabedra family was one of five families selected to purchase a unit in San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity's new affordable-home-ownership project at 624-630 Geneva Street.
The green housing project will feature five three-bedroom town homes and a community garden, where families can grow vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Habitat officials informed the families on Saturday morning that they had been handpicked out of 60 applicants for the eco-friendly project.
“We all know that home ownership brings family stability and that fosters success at school and in life,” Janelle Williams, co-chairwoman of Habitat's family selection committee, said at Saturday's groundbreaking ceremony.
They had to demonstrate that they made at least $33,000 per year and could pay a monthly mortgage of approximately $1,100 per month.
But to get the keys to the house, the families must complete 500 hours of labor—called “sweat equity”—during construction. They must also complete home ownership classes.
“We are going to be working side-by-side on their homes,” said Don Goodman, president of Habitat's board of directors.
The city's Housing Authority has worked with Habitat on six other projects throughout Glendale, Councilman Frank Quintero said. Families who were selected for those housing projects still reside in their homes, he added.
While Habitat has helped develop several housing projects in Glendale, Goodman said many other families still need homes during the protracted recession.
“The need is great. The need is real,” he said.
Shane Mulholland, his wife and two daughters were also elected for a home, but first had to overcome financial struggles to finally become debt-free.
Mulholland, a production coordinator at DreamWorks Animation, said he never thought owning a home would be possible in California because home values were beyond his family's means.
“I do not expect things to be perfect from here on, but this is most certainly a hand up in life for us,” he said.