Clovis welcomes two new Habitat for Humanity families

Habitat for Humanity CEO Matthew Grundy (right) delivers a statement as the Thao/Yang family awaits to receive their new home in the Rialto Ranch Subdivision in Clovis. (Photo by Valerie Shelton/Clovis Roundup)

For many, the epitome of obtaining the American Dream is homeownership, and for two local families that lifelong dream has now been achieved thanks to Habitat for Humanity and its partnership with the City of Clovis.

On Saturday, Oct. 28, the Chalabyan and Thao/Yang families received the keys to their brand new homes.

“My family is so excited because this is really a dream come true,” Lucy Chalabyan said on behalf of her parents and siblings. “When we came in December of last year, it was a huge surprise and couldn’t believe it was our family that was selected. My family really appreciates it and my parents say every day that they can’t believe they are going to be homeowners. Having a house here in the United States is our dream come true.”

In addition to their new homes, each family received gardening tools donated by The Well Community Church, a $500 children’s library donated by Katey’s Kids, local non-profit promoting literacy in the community, welcome door mats, and Bibles.

Habitat for Humanity CEO Matthew Grundy said helping these families become homeowners wouldn’t be possible without partners like the City of Clovis and dozens of volunteers who spend their Saturdays building homes. It’s all about family and community, Grundy said, and there is no better way to help your neighbor.

“Our founders had this idea where they wanted to create a community really based on the early church where everybody brought everything together so no one lacked in the community,” Grundy said. “Our founder said, ‘Nobody loves a good worship service more than I do, but we are called to make religion real, to make our faith come alive, helping others have a place to live is one way to do that.’ It doesn’t take long for others to recognize that too. We believe every person should have a place to call home and that is what unites us at Habitat.”

The Chalabyan family gathers for a group photo with Habitat for Humanity CEO Matthew Grundy (far left) and Clovis councilmember Vong Mouanoutoua (second from left) with their new home in the background. (Photo by Valerie Shelton/Clovis Roundup)

Habitat for Humanity is renowned nationwide for being the largest nonprofit homebuilder. It’s local Fresno County chapter was established in 1985 and has since provided homes for 164 families who would otherwise not have been able to own their own homes.

According to Andy Haussler, the Community and Economic Development Director for the City of Clovis, Clovis was the first city in the county to welcome a habitat family and the city’s relationship is well known, with Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore located right along Clovis Avenue.

While always a longtime supporter of Habitat for Humanity, the city is even more intimately involved in the creation of the Habitat for Humanity homes located in the Rialto Ranch subdivision, including the two latest homes dedicated to two families on Oct. 28. These two homes, as well as two built previously and at least two more in the works, were made possible through the city’s donation of the property, as well as the city’s financial investment in providing the infrastructure and roads.

While the new homes are a blessing to families, the city also benefits from seeing the transformation of a once blighted area.

“We started buying this property in 2000 with this as the goal,” Haussler said. “It has been adjusted a bit in terms of how the actual streets are laid out but this was the idea we scribbled out back when we looked at this property all those years ago. This area used to have slightly over one-acre ranch style houses that were severely dilapidated. We bought the area, tore down those old houses and transferred the property to Habitat.”

Aside from the homes being built in the Rialto Ranch area, Habitat for Humanity also broke ground on another home in Clovis at 1605 Fifth Street on Friday, Oct. 27.

This home is being built thanks to a three-way partnership between Habitat for Humanity, the City of Clovis, and Fresno City College.

All the construction of the 1241 square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home will be completed by students in the FCC construction program during the 2017 fall and 2018 spring semesters.

Instructor Eric Nitzche is supervising the project and is excited to be a part of the special partnership.

“There are approximately 50 students working on this new house, which also includes the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) class,” Nitzche said.

“We are so grateful for this unique partnership with the City of Clovis, Habitat for Humanity and the construction industry vendors who will provide valuable resources and expertise for our students,” said Dr. Carole Goldsmith, Fresno City College President. “These students will learn in the best hands-on environment possible and will earn a construction program certificate in two semesters.”

Once this home and the Rialto Ranch area are built out, the city of Clovis will have a total of 24 Habitat for Humanity homes.