Habitat home built in a blitz

Published 9:34 pm Saturday, June 10, 2017

Volunteers worked tirelessly to build a new home for Suffolk residents this week.

Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads and Housing Hampton Roads held a dedication ceremony on Saturday for a house that was built on Lake Kennedy Drive in just five days for Habitat for Humanity’s nationwide 2017 Home Builders Blitz.

Crews of volunteers each worked 12-hour shifts Monday through Friday to complete the two-story, 1,200-square-foot home.

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Rain on Monday set construction back for hours, but the team of professional and amateur builders still made their deadline.

“My team pulled together and worked harder and faster,” said Christine Early, Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads chief operating officer. “We did it.”

Alexandra Serrano, one of the volunteers, came out and helped hang kitchen cabinets and prepared window frames on the blitz home on her 31st birthday on Wednesday. She said what she really wanted to do on her birthday was to help somebody else.

“People love doing it,” said Brad Kirkpatrick, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads.

The new residence is one of nine being built for the neighborhood using land and materials provided by the city of Suffolk, along with donations and manpower from numerous other sponsors.

“They are beautiful homes,” said Suffolk Vice Mayor Leroy Bennett at the dedication. “Anyone would love to live in the them.”

Several families already have moved into finished homes on Lake Kennedy Drive, and others are planning to move in soon.

Families that move into these homes pay 30-year mortgage payments with zero interest, Kirkpatrick said. The payments are typically lower than the average for other homeowners in the area.

“They’re usually paying less than they would normally pay in rent,” Kirkpatrick said.

The families must also contribute 200 hours of “sweat equity.” This is either put into the construction of their own homes, another Habitat for Humanity residence or another effort for the organization.

Teresa Armstrong contributed 250 hours in two months of working in the Norfolk Habitat for Humanity office, reaching her quota faster than most others. This required her work to work night shifts while getting her volunteer hours during the day.

After five long years of searching, she and her son 1-year-old son Kasai Bonner moved into their Habitat home in December.

“It feels awesome,” she said. “I’m blessed to be a homeowner.”

The prospective homeowners are also required to take hours of training on financial management, home maintenance and community involvement. Kirkpatrick said the families benefit from the financial stability of these homes and become more involved in the community as a result.

Habitat for Humanity of South Hampton Roads has built 219 homes since 1988, and has had to foreclose on only four of them, he said.

“I see nothing but success,” Kilpatrick said. “Everybody that comes into our program has been changed for the better.”