New Habitat for Humanity Families

Habitat for Humanity's Houston chapter has chosen the next group of 100 families who will get the opportunity to buy and help build their own homes. Houston Public Radio's Jim Bell reports.

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After months of interviews and screening, 100 qualifying families were called to the Ensemble Theatre in midtown, where they learned they had been approved for a Habitat home. Habitat Director Algenita Davis says it's not a give away. The families have to put in 300 hours of sweat equity to earn the zero-interest mortgage.

"So you have to work on your house or your neighbor's house. Actual construction site working, hammering, nailing, the whole works. So they get a chance to work toward those hours and actually qualify for the purchase of the home."

Shandolyn Barnes got her chance at a Habitat home last year, and she's still putting in her 300 hours of sweat equity building her house. She says it's the greatest thing that's ever happened to her.

"That's absolutely right I mean it's just a blessing, you know, to have home ownership, and to actually work hard to know exactly every part of it from the beginning. To watch the walls go up on the home is just awesome."

The Habitat event was held at the Ensemble Theatre because the play A Raisin in the Sun opens there next month. Ensemble Artistic Director Eileen Morris says that play about a black Chicago family in the 1950s could have been written for Habitat.

"These people, the Younger family from Chicago was having all these struggles trying to own their own place so that they could come together as a family, as a community, and still be impactful. That's what the Ensemble tries to do every day with the work that we do."

The 100 homes will be built in almost every part of town from the Fifth Ward in northeast Houston to the Third Ward on the southeast side. Some of the newly eligible families are Hurricane Katrina evacuees who've decided to put down roots in Houston. Jim Bell, Houston Public Radio News.

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