By Cory Bilicko
Thanks to the work of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles (HFH GLA), South Bay realtors, local veterans, and Delta Airlines employees, several needy Long Beach families will soon be moving into new homes.
For the second year in a row, members of the South Bay Association of Realtors volunteered with HFH GLA to build a house in Long Beach for families in need of homes of their own. The Long Beach build site consists of four homes, one of which will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) for a family living with a disability.
The team of 25 realtors and Habitat crew leaders spent a day putting siding on the home and garage, doing electrical work and installing windows. On the build day, the realtors also had the opportunity to meet the new homeowner, Betty Coreas. She and her children, a 14-year-old daughter and 3-year-old son, have been living in a small one-bedroom apartment. Coreas said she is looking forward to moving into a home where her children can have their own rooms and where she feels safe at night. She has worked as a human-resources and administrative assistant for more than six years, but she has not been able to relocate her children to a safer environment in which they can better thrive.
“I want them to learn how valuable it is to give back and how you can make a difference in the lives of others,” said Coreas, who hopes to move her family into the home before Christmas.
The South Bay Association members did not just arrive on build day– they spent the months prior to the build raising money for Habitat for Humanity. This year alone they raised in excess of $4,000, which will help to build homes for other families. Both years, the group has surpassed the $2,500 minimum contribution needed to build.
Last Friday, volunteers from New Directions, Inc., a nonprofit which provides services and transitional housing for homeless veterans, helped in building the Coreas Family’s home. By participating as the building crew, they gained marketable skills while strengthening their ties to the community. The volunteers installed drywall and siding and helped paint.
“We hope that this is one of many more build days for veterans with New Directions, Inc.,” said Erin Rank, president and CEO for HFH GLA. “They are providing our hard-working homeowner families with the support they need to complete their homes, and we are able to provide them with valuable construction skills training.”
The Coreas Family will receive the keys to their new home during a dedication ceremony on Saturday, Dec. 18.
Last Tuesday, Delta Airlines employee volunteers joined HFH GLA representatives and First District Councilmember Robert Garcia for a ceremony dedicating a home to Wendy Castillo, a St. Mary’s Hospital employee, who will reside in the house with her 6-month-old baby and mother. Since HFH GLA offers hardworking families and individuals “a hand up, not a hand out,” Castillo is required to put in 200 hours of “sweat equity” putting the finishing touches on her home and volunteering at other HFH GLA sites, in addition to making a manageable down payment and paying back a zero-interest mortgage. “Habitat homeowners must work and pay their own mortgage, but the financial support and volunteer time provided by Habitat makes the dream of home ownership available to many people who might not otherwise have that opportunity,” Garcia said.
During Tuesday’s ceremony, key staff members from HFH GLA and Delta were on hand to welcome the Castillos into their new home and present them with the keys. The ceremony also celebrated the hundreds of Delta employees who volunteered to build the home that Delta Airlines sponsored– making it possible for the home to be rehabilitated in just weeks.
“It is amazing what can be accomplished when an organization comes together to build something positive,” Rank said. “Volunteers were encouraged to build on company time, and it was beautiful to see how many returned again and again on their days off. By doing so, they have changed the lives of the Castillo family for generations in just a few weeks.”
Striving to eliminate poverty housing through advocacy, education and partnership with families in need to build simple, decent, affordable and sustainable housing, HFH GLA has built and renovated more than 630 homes locally and worldwide since 1990.