Massive Habitat for Humanity 'Build-A-Thon' underway in Fremont

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It's a field of dreams that'll soon become a reality for dozens of deserving families in Alameda County, more than 150 volunteers began work Friday on a long-awaited affordable housing development in Fremont. (KGO-TV)

It's a field of dreams that'll soon become a reality for dozens of low-income families in Alameda County. More than 150 volunteers began work Friday on a long-awaited affordable housing development in Fremont as part of Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley's annual Build-A-Thon.

"We are inspired by the response we've received from the Fremont community," said Janice Jensen, President and CEO of Habitat East Bay/Silicon Valley.

Volunteers are working at Habitat EBSV's construction site on Central Avenue performing several weeks' worth of construction in only two days. Some say the connections they've formed with eventual homeowners motivates them to return every year.


"To be able to step up in this society and in this world and make it a better place for themselves and their families," says Charles Broom, who has been volunteering with Habitat EBSV for more than two decades.

Representatives from local businesses and faith groups, as well as individuals and several Fremont firefighters are on-hand, assembling and erecting framing and fencing, in addition to other construction-related tasks.

"Working together with other folks, I like building things and I like construction," says Brett Sewell, another long-time Habitat EBSV volunteer. "Put that all together and that's why you find me out on the job site."

The 30-home 'Central Commons' development is the first high-density condo project in Habitat EBSV history. Jensen says all of the homes will be high-quality and energy-efficient. Selected families will help build and own these homes as part of the Habitat 'sweat equity' model.

"They help to build their homes, and they build the homes of their neighbors, and that also helps to build a community of people who are going to live here," Jensen said.

This year's Build-A-Thon is the kick-start to the first phase of this multi-year development. Officials say 11 homes will be completed and dedicated by September 2018.

Bay Area resident, Malek Alghaithi, was at the construction site Friday putting in his 'sweat equity' hours. Just six years ago, Alghaithi fled the war-torn country of Yemen and left his career as a dentist in search of the American dream. He's grateful to now be a part of the Habitat EBSV community.

"Great people who's just here to support you and standing with you to reach your goals," says Alghaithi, who became a U.S. citizen in 2013.

Alghaithi hopes to eventually practice dentistry again and is working toward fulfilling state requirements. His family of five currently lives in a one-bedroom apartment and can't wait to move into Central Commons next fall.

"Words and sentences are not enough to thank everyone for what they're doing," Alghaithi said.

The Fremont City Council unanimously approved the plan for Central Commons in 2014. The $14 million development was made possible in part from $1 million in cap and trade funding that Habitat EBSV received for the project.

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Related Topics:
realestateconstructionhousingaffordable housinghabitat for humanityFremont
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