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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary

Ground Broken for 53 Low-Cost Pacoima Homes

November 11, 2000

PACOIMA — After digging a shovel into a patch of dry dirt Friday morning, Nicolas Enriquez glanced at his wife and three kids and smiled.

Enriquez had just dug in the spot where the family's new home is scheduled to be built in the next year, a dream realized for a family now living in a cramped, one-bedroom motor home.

"It's hard living like that," Enriquez said. "Nobody has space."

So he applied for a program sponsored by the nonprofit organization Habitat for Humanity, which helps low-income families become first-time homeowners.

Within a year Enriquez; his wife, Marlene; twin 9-year-old daughters, Gennessis and Geminnis; and 1-year-old daughter Moriby, will live in a 1,300-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home with a small yard.

On Friday morning, about 150 city officials and Habitat for Humanity volunteers celebrated the groundbreaking for 53 homes on a four-acre lot on Pierce Street.

The first 10 homes are scheduled to be completed within a year and the rest within five years, said Habitat for Humanity spokeswoman Linda Chavez.

Families who have qualified to buy the homes, with a minimal down payment and a no-interest loan, all live in substandard, overcrowded conditions, officials said.

"The family only pays what it costs to build the home, $95,000 to $120,000, so their monthly payments end up being about the same as what they're paying [in rent] where they live now," Chavez said.

Families agree to help with such things as framing and dry-walling under the guidance of construction experts.

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