Seven homes on deck from Habitat for Humanity

These women team up in preparing an entranceway for paint on one of seven homes being built by Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay in Live Oak. — Tarmo Hannula/Register-Pajaronian

A total of seven homes are planned for an ongoing Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay project in the Live Oak area of Santa Cruz.

With five of the homes completed and occupied, the work moves ahead to complete the project that provides homeownership for qualified low-income families who have the ability to pay an affordable mortgage.

Various volunteer groups and individuals have rolled up their sleeves to build the houses. Recently, more than 70 women joined the effort as part of the annual Women Build Week.

From sawing, shaping wood, framing, sheetrock and foundation work, the volunteers, under the direction of construction manager Mike McIlwain and dedicated expert homebuilders, tackle one task after another.

“We accept volunteers from the greater Bay Area - charity teams, corporations, and individuals,” said Allie Wilson, Volunteer Coordinator with Habitat for Humanity Monterey Bay. “It’s a wonderful program on so many levels.”

Currently, there are two active construction sites in Santa Cruz. The main site is Los Esteros Court, between 7th and 17th Avenues.

The second site is located on Fairmount Avenue, and is a “My House, My Home” project, a program that helps low-income senior homeowners keep their property and age in place by building an Accessory Dwelling Unit on the property. This creates an additional source of rental income for the homeowners, and opens the channels for the homeowners and the new low income resident to develop a caring, reciprocal relationship.   

“Helping out here gives me a sense of purpose and meaning,” said volunteer Suzanne Keller. “I grew up in this area and it feels nice to have found a good, solid way of helping my community. It’s a great program; I’m fascinated by the nuts and bolts of how well it works. We all know how difficult it is to find housing in the area, and this is a program that deals with that issue.”

Bonnie Barcinas said she came to the Los Esteros Court project with a team of seven Bank of America / Merrill Lynch staff from the Carmel area to assist during Women Build Week.

“I heard about the program a few years ago and it seemed like the right fit for me,” she said. “Not only is it enjoyable to work outdoors, it’s a great way to give back to the community.”

Additional construction funding sources come from Habitat for Humanity’s discount home improvement stores known as ReStores in Santa Cruz on Swift Street, and in the Monterey Bay on Gigling Road in Seaside. 

“We welcome volunteer participation at our construction sites and ReStores,” Wilson said. “Volunteers are the nuts and bolts of Habitat. No experience is necessary.”


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