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Five homes in a week: Raleigh builders on a mission

Habitat for Humanity's "Homebuilders Blitz" kicks off in June

Wake County Habitat for Humanity is taking part in a national event where almost 200 homes will be built across the country by professional volunteer builders in the span of about one week.
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Wake County Habitat for Humanity is taking part in a national event where almost 200 homes will be built across the country by professional volunteer builders in the span of about one week.

Ashia Aran and her 11-year-old daughter Nevaeh have driven by the lot where their house will be every day since late May. They talk about color schemes and where they will put the Christmas tree, then drive back to their apartment and wait. This week, the wait is over.

Aran’s home is one of five local home builders plan to complete this week for Habitat for Humanity in Neuse Ridge, an East Raleigh neighborhood. The builders are participating in Habitat for Humanity’s Home Builders Blitz, which plans to build or renovate about 200 homes across the country. This is the 12th year of the Blitz and will mark 2,000 homes built or renovated across the nation since its inception in Wake County in 2002.

Fourteen home builders began construction on the homes Monday and will finish by Friday. Local companies – including Cary-based Ply Gem and Raleigh-based Martin Marietta – are supporting the Builders Blitz with cash and supply donations.

Ply Gem CEO Gary Robinette said he noticed that the amount of affordable housing being built was decreasing despite the area’s growing population and decided to do something about it. Since starting its Home for Good initiative in 2016, Ply Gem has donated more than $1 million in windows, vinyl siding and other exterior products to Habitat.

“Ply Gem is making a huge impact on affordable housing here and across the country,” said Nancy Bromhal, spokeswoman for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.

Ply Gem manufactures, not builds, so Robinette sees encouraging builders to participate as another way the company participates in the Builders Blitz.

“Seeing eight to 10 companies rallied around a cause and seeing them out on builds, giving up their time, is really impressive,” Robinette said.

Raleigh home builder Tom Gipson started the Builders Blitz in 2002, when he convinced 12 other builders to build homes for free for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County.

The builders thought it was such a great opportunity, eight of the 12 returned the next year, Gipson said.

The idea spread across the country, and in 2015, 55 Habitat chapters participated.

I was in a tiny apartment trying to make ends meet, and I didn’t think something like this could happen.

Ashia Aran, who will be moving into a Habitat home with her two children.

Habitat house buyers typically spend two months helping build their houses and contributing what Habitat calls “sweat equity” to the project. Buyers of the Builders Blitz houses will put their sweat equity into build Habitat houses for others and volunteering in Habitat’s ReStores, which sell donated items to the public to raise money for the organization.

Aran, a phlebotomist at WakeMed Health & Hospitals, said the Habitat house payments will leave her enough to start saving for college for her two children. Daughter Nevaeh, 11, and son Isaiah, 5, will not have to share a room anymore.

Aran discovered Habitat last year, when she complimented a friend’s house and was surprised by her reply: it was built through Habitat.

She researched the organization and applied in December. Six months later, she is about to be a homeowner.

“It seemed to good to be true because everything fit my situation,” she said. “I was in a tiny apartment trying to make ends meet, and I didn’t think something like this could happen.”

One of her new neighbors will be a nurse technician at WakeMed. Alicia Reid will move into her Habitat house in Neuse Ridge with her son Calvin in time to get it ready for her new baby due in July. Reid said she cannot wait to take her active 3-year-old son on walks in the woods behind the house.

“This house means stability,” Reid said. “I’ll finally able to fulfill the American dream, raising your kids in a home of your own.”

Evie Fordham: 919-829-4809, @eviefordham

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