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Families to build their own habitat

Residents are ready to put some 'sweat equity' into their new homes.

February 01, 2011|By Bill Kisliuk

Eight Burbank families this week won the right to spend 500 hours building a house without pay, but when they finish, the houses will be theirs.

On Monday, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles teamed with Burbank officials to name those who would live in seven new townhomes and one refurbished house north of downtown. More than 35 families applied for the homes in the area bounded by Peyton and Grismer avenues, Elliot Drive and Keller Street.

Monday’s meeting at the Community Services Building was billed as just another step in what has been a seven-month application process. But with Burbank Mayor Anja Reinke and Habitat for Humanity officials at the event, the residents learned they were the winners.

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Eliseo Adayte was talking to his son when Habitat for Humanity board member Gerry Bross announced Adayte and the other families on hand had won.

“Me and him, we missed it,” Adayte said. “Then we saw the reaction of the other families, and said, ‘Oh my god, we are in.”

Adayte, an aircraft parts machinist in Burbank, said he is eager to work construction in his spare time.

“Since I was 13, I’ve known what it takes to get a shovel and work with it,” he said. “It is going to be very exciting to work on my own house.”

Marci Johnson was seeking a home for herself and her 7-year-old daughter, who have struggled financially. Up until recently, Johnson, who is doing compliance work for a motion picture studio services company, was living with her parents.

“Living with my mom and dad was a blessing. But I wanted a place to show my daughter that we can make it on our own,” Johnson said.

Families were screened for financial need and credit qualifications, and then given priority if they lived in one of Burbank’s four affordable housing “focus neighborhoods” or in properties run by the nonprofit Burbank Housing Corp.

Ross Young, the Burbank Redevelopment Agency manager supervising the project, said work is scheduled to start in mid-February and may be completed within 12 to 18 months. Licensed contractors will take the lead, with supervised volunteers helping in the later stages.

“Professional trades workers will go all the way to drywall,” Young said. “There will be less volunteer activity in early stages, and more on the finish work.”

Jo-An Turman, a spokeswoman for Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles, said the agency counts on the assistance of volunteers and “rusty nails” — retired contractors and trades people willing to lend a hand. Families benefiting from the program are required to put in as many as 500 hours of “sweat equity” and attend homeownership training sessions.

Turman said Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles has built or refurbished more than 350 homes in the metropolitan area since 1990, as well as 300 others around the world.

On Monday, each of the eight families was presented with a scrapbook for chronicling the home-raising, a rose to celebrate the occasion and a hammer to symbolize the work ahead.

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