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Habitat, City, Families Break Ground on Habitat at Myers

By Helena Mitchell
10/31/2013 at 08:44 AM

Stephanie Cordero watched with incredulity as Moreno Valley and Habitat for Humanity leaders on Thursday, Oct. 24, broke the ground at the site where her future home will sit. “I’m still in shock. It feels like it’s not real,” said Cordero, a single mother of four. Last week’s groundbreaking was the start of the construction of the Habitat at Meyers Street project; Habitat for Humanity, Riverside has collaborated with the City of Moreno Valley and other contractors to bring the project to the area, slated now to complete in mid-2014. The project includes eight affordable single family homes for first time home-buyers. Qualifying families have incomes at or below 50 percent of Riverside County area median income, adjusted for family size, explained Habitat for Humanity, Riverside Executive Director Karin Roberts. Construction began this week on the housing tract on Myers Avenue, between Heacock and Indian Streets, which will feature eight detached single-family homes, all built to Energy Star Standards with the purpose to reduce utility and maintenance cost, according to a project fact sheet. “In our collaboration with the city, we have been treated extremely well through all the planning and retaining the permits,” said Roberts. “We’ve really been put on the fast track to make sure the project is completed by the summer of next year.” Contractors will work six days a week on the homes, with volunteers welcome to help on Saturdays, noted Roberts. Volunteers will help with landscaping and painting work, while contractors are responsible for installing plumbing, electric, framing and roofing, said Roberts. “At Habitat we stress home ownership,” said Roberts. “We want to make the American dream possible for those who can’t make it possible through a regular bank loan.” Cordero, who was joined last week by three of her children—Steven Torres, 17, Mariah Torres, 14, and Gabriel Torres, 10—said the home was one of the biggest blessings she could receive. The notification that she and her family had qualified for the four-bedroom home came at the right time, she commented. With her eldest son Michael, 18, having just enlisted in the Army, Cordero said she was having trouble coping with saying good-bye to her son. “It’s been really hard for me and I’ve been going through the emotions,” said Cordero. “But he’s coming home to me.” Cordero and her children currently live in a three-bedroom apartment, where Cordero said many of them share bedrooms. She applied for the project this time last year, she shared, at the prompting of a pastor she knew who had gone through the Habitat for Humanity himself. “I put my application in and they called to ask me to turn in my paperwork, and then they called for an interview. I went through a lot of [emotions] but still I never thought it would happen,” Cordero, a medical assistant for a gynecologist’s office in Moreno Valley, said. “It was an overwhelming feeling when I was told I was selected.” Being in the confined space of an apartment complex has meant her children have had to stay inside their home more often than not, said Cordero. Every once in a while, she shared, she drives by what will become her family’s new neighborhood and imagines the memories she and her family will make there, like watching her kids ride their bikes on the street or play basketball in their driveway. “We live in a confined space and they don’t get to do that,” said Cordero. “There are no basketball courts or a pool, and they can’t ride their bikes.” The family is set to move into a 1,885 square foot, four-bedroom, two-bathroom home, complete with a front porch and attached garage. An additional benefit of the new home is that it will be closer to her son’s elementary school, Sunnymead Elementary, and very close to work for Cordero. “It’s perfect. Everything is here. I’m very excited and I feel very blessed.” Also in attendance at the groundbreaking event were Gabriela Rocha and her husband, Erick De La Cruz. The couple also brought their children, Erick, 8, and Diego, 3, to celebrate. The family applied for selection in early January of this year, explained Rocha. When they were told they were selected, she shared they were floored. “We didn’t believe it at first,” she said. “I’m still in shock now. We wanted to get a house; we’re very excited and so many organizations helped make it happen.” Rocha and her family are set to move into the 1,825 square foot, three-bedroom, 2-bathroom model, which is close to the apartment complex where they currently reside. Knowing the area makes Rocha comfortable, she said. She is looking forward to her children having more room. “They like to play and they need a backyard,” said Rocha. Additionally, the home is close to her children’s schools and shopping centers, which Rocha said she likes. She is looking forward to having a larger kitchen, where she will be able to indulge in her hobby: baking. “I love to cook,” she said. “I love making cakes and cookies, too. Right now all the appliances belong to our apartment [complex], so I really want to get my own stove.” Overall, she said she and her family “thank Habitat for Humanity, for making our dream come true.” In total, the project will include two four-bedroom, two-bathroom homes and six three-bedroom, two-bathroom homes. Currently five families have been selected to move into five of the homes, one family is currently in the pending status and applications are still being taken for the final two homes. The project is made possible through the collaboration of Habitat for Humanity, Riverside, the City of Moreno Valley, Bank of America and the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development.