Habitat for Humanity builds better homes, stronger families - New York News

Habitat for Humanity builds better homes, stronger families on the South Side

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

The sound of hope sounds on the South Side as dreams of home ownership continue to take shape, thanks to Habitat for Humanity.

Paul Thibault is the contractor who's been working for Habitat for Humanity for the last several years.

"I was a real estate developer. My dad and I had a business for years on the East Coast," Thibault said. "My dad unfortunately died, so I was looking for something more meaningful and stumbled into Habitat."

Leon is Paul's No. 1 helper. Together they are siding a home at 119th and Union in Chicago's 34th ward in the West Pullman neighborhood.

Habitat's Chicago bureau, known as Windy City Habitat, has been around since 2002 and has built more than 150 homes. Jennifer Parks is the executive director here.

The organization's mission statement and operating model is to build affordable homes, better families and stronger neighborhoods.

"We'll work with them to help them become successful homeowners," Parks said.

She said eventually, the entire block will be a row of privately owned properties. Many groups work on building a single home.

Homeowners under the Habitat model help build it in exchange for a cash down payment – the call it "sweat equity." Homes are sold at prices from $95,000 to $155,000.

Parks says churches, corporations and student groups from school-age to college get involved with Habitat.

"I mean, the families are what it's all about," Parks said. "Them being able to get into a home, become successful homeowners, contribute back to the community; paying their property taxes back into the larger economy in the city; being able to take care of a house. Homeownership is so important because people are truly invested in the community."

119th and Union was very busy on Friday, with people swinging hammers, hanging drywall and helping out in any way they can. "Kitchen Crashers" host Alison Victoria brought a crew to help out as well.

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