Habitat for Humanity launches "reconstruction program" in Chandler

CHANDLER, AZ - Isabel Duran has lived in her Chandler home near Arizona Avenue and Pecos road for more than 42 years.  

A new Habitat for Humanity program is helping her stay put despite expensive wear and tear on the property.

"I raised my kids here and my grandkids," she said.  "I know this neighborhood."

Duran's home is the first in a pilot program by Habitat for Humanity to "reconstruct" homes in older neighborhoods.

"There are homes that are not safe to live in but no contractor can do anything because they are out of code or were built before codes," said Roger Swierjohn with Habitat for Humanity.  "The people who are on limited a income are not able to afford the repairs and are living in unsafe conditions."

The program works in a way similar to a typical Habitat build.

In the reconstruction program, the homeowner deeds the lot to Habitat for fair market value. That is not paid in cash but is rather given as a down payment for a new home that will be built on that lot.  The homeowner is given a mortgage that fits their income.

"Habitat is not a hand out," said Swierjohn. "The families have to put in the sweat equity like in other homes we build."

Duran's home will be completed in March. "It is like a dream," said Duran.

Habitat has identified several more neighborhoods where they may expand the program later this year.

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