Habitat for Humanity builds more homes in Lents

How many volunteers does it take to raise the wall of a new home? Take a look, and find out who is pitching to help build these new homes in outer East Portland …

The organization’s Executive Director, Steve Messinetti, listens as Tori Jarmer – the Habitat for Humanity Metro East’s Youth United Build spokesperson – says their program is a good way for young people go learn civic involvement.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
The Lents neighborhood has long been the focus for Habitat for Humanity Metro East, because of good land values and its proximity to transportation. This organization is building more new homes — as we witnessed a couple of weeks ago, when they “raised the walls” on some new houses.

> To read our last article about homes being developed in the Lents neighborhood by Habitat for Humanity, CLICK HERE.

Students and their sponsors, with Habitat for Humanity Metro East’s Youth United program, listen as their representative speaks briefly about the program.

Students help build house
To signify a major step in building homes, Habitat for Humanity holds “wall-raising” ceremonies. Before this takes place, civic leaders speak about the project.

During a wall-raising in March, at the Lents Landing site, Tori Jarmer said the organization’s Youth United Build program brought together Portland-area youth, ages 5 to 25, to fund and build a portion of this new home in Lents.

Kids younger than 16 years of age promote the projects and help out with fundraising. The older youths get to swing hammers, Jarmer explained, and will actually help build the houses – which is why she, and others in the program,were dressed in work clothes, and sported construction hard-hats.

> To learn more about Youth United, contact their coordinator, Marianne McClure at marianne@habitatportlandmetro.org.

Volunteers and future homeowners are on hand, as the wall-raising ceremony commences.

Individuals sponsor half the building
Habitat for Humanity Metro East’s Executive Director, Steve Messinetti, said that half of the funding for this new home was sponsored by the organization’s Carpenters Club.

“This is a group of individuals contributing to Habitat for Humanity on an individual basis,” Messinetti told us. “Their monthly contribution can mean the difference between starting a project – or delaying it, while a partner family continues to live in substandard conditions.”

Homeowner-to-be Gerardo Navor-Leon shares why he’s happy to work fulltime, and also to put the required 500 hours of “sweat equity” into his new home.

Owners donate ‘sweat equity’
Introducing to those at the event one of the soon-to-be homeowners, Gerardo Navor-Leon, Messinetti said that several of the new homeowners have already put in half of their 500 hours of sweat equity on other homes in the development.

“Because of volunteer labor and donations, houses like these are sold below market value,” noted Messinetti. “Families pay a 1% down payment on a 0% interest mortgage.”

Navor-Leon thanked all who were helping to build his new house. “It’s not easy to work full time and still volunteer. But we are so much looking forward to having our own home, it is worth the hard work.”

Before the blessing was given, Messinetti said, “We’ll be longtime partners with these families.”

Volunteers get final instructions from the project manager, including, “Lift with your legs, not with your backs!”

Up the wall goes.

The wall is in position, as workers secure it to the floor with bracing.

© 2010 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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