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Glendale families welcomed into new homes

Five families move into their new, Habitat for Humanity-built homes on Geneva Street.

June 17, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity board member Thomas Bunn III, left, hands the keys to their new home to Shane Mulholland as his wife Andrea and baby Luke look on during ceremony for the Geneva Street homes in Glendale.
San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity board member… (Raul Roa / Staff…)

As Shane Mulholland accepted the keys to his new town home, one in a five-unit complex on Geneva Street recently completed under the Habitat for Humanity model, he warned those present Saturday that his emotions might get the better of him.

“This year has been full of great memories for us, including the birth of our son in December,” said Mulholland, flanked by his wife and three young children. “Working on the house has been a transformative experience for us. From digging to framing to the roofing to the painting, we have learned so much along the way. We are here to move in and make this house a home.”

It was a moment as sweet as it was satisfying for the young family, their four sets of new neighbors and the nearly 2,000 volunteers who labored for more than a year to bring it to reality.

The dedication drew hundreds of people to the site, where they toured the five-unit, 6,250-square-foot complex and garden and congratulated the families who now call it home. It is the seventh Habitat for Humanity project in Glendale, officials said.

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Founded in 1976, the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to helping working families achieve what might otherwise be an elusive dream of home ownership. The organization has built more than 400,000 houses around the world, with much of the labor done by community volunteers overseen by construction professionals.

The future owners go through a rigorous selection process and are required to contribute a minimum of 500 hours toward the construction of their own home, know as “sweat equity.” They also take classes on the nuances of home ownership and personal finance to prepare them for the responsibility of a mortgage.

The Geneva Street project represented a collaboration between the city — which bought the site for $2.5 million — Habitat for Humanity and its benefactors, and numerous local businesses and tradesmen. In total, 585 donors contributed, while nearly 2,000 volunteers invested 24,000 hours of labor, officials said.

The complex will house 24 people, 13 of them children or young adults.

It is always joyous to attend the dedication of an affordable housing unit, Councilman Ara Najarian said, especially Habitat projects.

“You know each one of these families was picked over a year ago and they have, with their own sweat equity, participated in the nail-by-nail and beam-by-beam construction of each of these beautiful town homes,” Najarian said. “Not only do they get a home, but they have a sense of commitment and a sense of hands-on involvement in creating the house for themselves.”

Izabella Tumanyan, a wife and mother of two, described Saturday as one of the best days of her life. Her new home has something extra special to it because of the many who contributed, she said.

“It takes hands to build a house, but only hearts can build a home,” Tumanyan said.

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