Volunteers, local officals and even the homeowners themselves helped raise the walls during a Tuesday ceremony marking the start of construction on five Habitat for Humanity homes in University City.
The houses will be located near the intersection of Kingsland and Bartmer and is the organization's first project in U City. In addition to providing access to quality housing for low-income families, the residences will be setting a sustainable example by following LEED construction guidelines.
Future homeowner Tyanna Scott said being able to move into a brand-new house represents a huge opportunity for her family. Scott is married and a working mother of two young children, but has been unable to qualify for a more traditional home loan.
"It feels really good and I am so excited," she said. "It's like a dream come true."
Habitat St. Louis' CEO Kimberly McKinney, State Rep. Rory Ellinger and U City Mayor Shelley Welsch were also present for the ceremony. Welsch said she hoped the construction would have a simulative effect for the area, one of the city's most historic neighborhoods.
"I am hopeful that this really is a spur to further economic development in this vital section of the great city of University City," Welsch said. She also praised the focus on using environmentally friendly building practices.
The new homes will be four bedroom, 1.5 bath, two story homes and are designed to blend in aesthetically with the surrounding neighborhoods. After Tuesday's wall raising, a six day “Blitz Build” will begin on Monday, June 11, to help kick-start momentum for the project.
The success of such efforts is in large part due to Habitat volunteers like St. Louis resident Kevin Rapp, who was also present at Tuesday’s event. Rapp has a background in the construction business and started volunteering for Habitat in January. Once he got started, he found it difficult to stop.
“I am hooked now. I volunteer at least three Saturdays a month,” Rapp said.
Rapp said the most rewarding part is being able to work alongside the future homeowners, getting to know them and “seeing their face light up” as the project progresses.
Habitat for Humanity
Habitat for Humanity Saint Louis is a not-for-profit, ecumenical housing ministry working in partnership with individuals and communities of all faiths to improve living conditions and provide affordable housing in the St. Louis community. With more than 313 homes already built in the area, Habitat has become one of the leading housing developers in the St. Louis metro area.
According to the USGBC, Habitat for Humanity St. Louis is the largest producer of LEED Certified Platinum single-family detached homes in the United States.
Sponsors of the U City build include: Anheuser-Busch Foundation, ARCO Construction Company, City County Catholic Partnership, Commerce Bank, Graybar Foundation, McBride & Son Companies, West County Churches - Ladue Chapel, Webster Groves, Trinity, and Bonhomme Presbyterian Churches, Episcopal Diocese Habitat for Humanity Project, Habitat for Humanity Chapter, Housing Ministry for the Needy and Travelers.