Housing project gives some workers a job

DUBLIN, Calif.

Sales of previously-owned homes fell for the third time in four months -- down 3.5 percent in July. The number of people applying for unemployment rose above the 400,000 mark again, although the four-week average is at the lowest level since April.

The sweet sound of employment is something Mark Anderson has been waiting to hear.

"I was on the out-of-work list, waiting for a job," Anderson said. "Waiting for my union to give me a call so I could come to work."

The call finally came on Monday. What comes next for the apprentice construction worker will be a much-needed paycheck.

"It means everything," Anderson said. "It's like a life saver, like someone threw me a life preserver."

That life preserver came in the form of a 24-acre housing development in Dublin built by KB Homes and the non-profit Eden Housing.

Thursday's ground-breaking means it is back to work for more than 1,000 Bay Area residents.

"It's going to create 860-some construction jobs during the project," said Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton. "That's a lot to say right now. In this particular period of our history when money is so tight and when unemployment is so high."

This new community of nearly 400,000 homes is also doing more than providing jobs. When the development finally opens, half of it will be sold at market rate, but the other half will be apartments for low-income families and seniors.

Dublin's mayor says the long-term economic impact stretches far beyond the plots of land.

"This has a tremendous impact on our city," said Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti. "The rooftops lead to more economic development, where other jobs want to locate here because they have a place for their workers to live."

Today, it's a silver lining in an otherwise bleak economy, but that also means tomorrow's uncertainty for home builders, like Anderson, when the construction jobs go away.

"Like my superintendent said, we all stay in crystal houses," Anderson said. "You never know when it's going to break."

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