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BUILDING DREAMS | Habitat for Humanity empowers Lehigh families toward affordable homeownership

Volunteers worked to raise walls for two families in need, offering a path to the American dream
LEHIGH HABITAT WALL RAISINGS THUMBNAIL.jpg
Posted at 5:46 PM, Dec 22, 2023

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. — The rhythmic sounds of construction filled the air in Lehigh Acres as Habitat for Humanity and volunteers worked to put up the walls of two homes.

They’re for two families currently renting, who have partnered up with Habitat for Humanity as their only option of owning an affordable home.

One of the homes is destined for a couple: Elizabeth Aldao and Felix Sanchez. They found themselves in a housing dilemma when their landlord sold their home amid a rising market. Having called the same address home for six years, they were suddenly forced to relocate.

“That’s what really put them back in the market to search for a home, and they were not able to afford the new prices in rent,” explained Sharon Salazar from Habitat for Humanity, who translated the Spanish speaking couple.

Elizabeth and Felix are not alone in their struggle. Many individuals facing similar situations turn to organizations like Habitat for Humanity for assistance.

Elisha Baird, the Chief Operating Officer of Habitat for Humanity in Lee and Hendry counties, sheds light on the selection process.

"Once it is determined that they are home-buyer ready, their application goes before a selection committee - which is a group of volunteers - and they determine which home-buyers are selected for which house," Baird said.

For Elizabeth and Felix, their situation qualified them to receive help from the program.

They will contribute 300 hours of sweat equity, pay $2,000 in closing costs and participate in over 20 hours of home-ownership financial literacy classes to ensure they can maintain their new home.

"Today he's out of words - he's just too excited," Felix said. "He has learned a lot about maintenance. He feels like he can do anything on his own house now."

Over its 42-year history, Habitat for Humanity has helped more than 1,800 families find homes.

"There is a solution - that they can too have the American dream of a home,” Baird said.