Houston Habitat For Humanity Application Fair

Houston Habitat for Humanity is holding an application fair today and tomorrow not only for Houstonians but for new residents who find themselves in the Bayou City because of Katrina. Houston Public Radio's Capella Tucker reports the housing opportunity is helping stabilize families.

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New Houstonian Ivy Ray came by to pick up an application for not only her but to hand out to other Katrina evacuees at her church. She keeps telling herself that change is good and counts herself lucky because her employer was able to transfer her job to Houston.

"I'm looking out for the well-being for my son and me. The schools are better here and I'm working right now, so it's pretty good, it's working out for me."

For Lynette Mearis, a trip back to New Orleans after the storm made her realize she wasn't going back.

"I knew right then and there it was going to be a long process. So that's when I decided I needed to make stabilization here in Houston to strengthen myself, to be strong enough. Just have my mind set that I can't go back right now."

Mearis moved into a Habitat home last July. She, like all Habitat owners, purchased her home at-cost with no interest. For the down payment, they are required to put in 300 hours of what's called 'sweat equity.' That includes helping build their own homes. Mearis enjoyed taking part in building a new community.

"To be honest with you I loved it, because it gave me the knowledge and understanding that we have to build a community. It's all about unity and once you get that unity you have a safe, secure, sound atmosphere, because you know that you know that neighbor next door to you. It's not like we are all separate."

Mearis neighbors are not only fellow evacuees, but also immigrants and native Houstonians ... all with jobs. To apply, potential Habitat owners must earn at least $1,500 a month. The last time Habitat for Humanity held a special drive following Hurricane Katrina they received 15,000 applications. Habitat for Humanity Development Director Ellen Efsic says the goal is to build 125 homes this year.

"There are a great deal of people getting on their feet. Like I said the families that we served last year were families who made decisions early, went out, got jobs. A number of people were relocated from companies they were working for in New Orleans. There's also families that found new jobs here and built into the community."

The application fair continues today until six and tomorrow from ten to six. It's being held at the Houston Habitat for Humanity ReStore at 6161 South Loop East at South Wayside Drive. Capella Tucker, Houston Public Radio News.

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