Habitat for Humanity Continues Veteran Home Building Efforts

The Clovis Veterans Memorial District team volunteering at the site of one of Habitat for Humanity’s veteran home project that is being built near Sunnyside Ave and Tollhouse Rd. on Saturday, April 17, 2021. (Courtesy of CVMD)

Habitat for Humanity continues its work in the City of Clovis with its latest two-home project that provides housing for two deserving military veteran households.

The construction is taking place in the neighborhood near Sunnyside Avenue and Fourth Street. Habitat has built homes in that neighborhood before, the latest being in 1999.

“The City of Clovis was kind enough to offer the land for us to continue to build in that neighborhood,” said Director of Development for Habitat’s greater Fresno area, Cary Catalano. “We wanted to do something by focusing the efforts of our next two homes in the City of Clovis for veterans.”

The project’s goal is for veterans who have been honorably discharged and are looking for homeownership but cannot afford to buy a home for numerous reasons.

“These homes are valued at over $300,000 each. And this would be a definite leg up for these families, and what makes it affordable is our modeling,” Catalano said. “They’re able to get in with no money down because we provide the downpayment assistance, and their downpayment is helping us build the home.”

Catalano says that Habitat doesn’t give houses away but works with the families to receive an affordably priced home.

Funding from various organizations allows the process of receiving these homes much more manageable for families than buying a home independently.

Two major players have donated to the project’s funding. 

The Fresno Association of Realtors contributed $40,000 to the construction, earned through a memorial campaign for longtime real estate advocate Gerard Lozano who passed away in October 2020. 

The Home Depot Foundation was the other donor, donating $30,000.

This past Saturday, the Clovis Veterans Memorial District (CVMD) sent 15 volunteers to help with the second phase of the structure’s framing. 

“The staff at the memorial district decided to make it a team-building effort to go out there with our family members, and we donated our time to help build,” said CVMD CEO Lorenzo Rios.

In addition to the construction, the CVMD donated $2,000 to overhead costs.

“What’s nice is when you sign up and you volunteer, you provide a gift of $2,000. That money goes towards reducing the overhead costs for that veteran,” Rios said. “Not only do they volunteer their time, but they also provide a little treasure.”

Rios says that it is essential for veterans to know that their service matters because they decided to serve their country and defend the public’s freedom voluntarily.

“The ultimate way of honoring our veterans is not just putting up monuments, but doing our part to make their sacrifice worth it,” said Rios.

Rios will now be working with the Clovis Rotary Club (CRC), who will send volunteers to help with construction in May. The club will also be donating $2,000 as well.

Volunteer efforts from organizations like the CVMD and the CRC help offset construction costs, which can be expensive.

Catalano says that although the project has received community support, it is far from its goal. Habitat is still $90,000 shy of its fundraising goal to make these homes fully funded and keep them affordable for the individuals they are trying to serve.

“Because of COVID, donations have been scarce,” Catalano said. “We’re still committed to building the homes, but we still need the public support for additional down payment assistance to keep these homes affordable.”

For the public, Catalano says that those who want to help veterans can go to Habitat’s website and donate.

Habitat has selected the first family to receive one of the properties.

However, Habitat is still looking for a qualified family selected for the second property, a three-bedroom, two-bath home. 

To qualify for the home, veterans must demonstrate need, live in substandard housing conditions, have low income, provide 500 hours of sweat equity toward building the house, a credit score of at least 620, pay an affordable mortgage and be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident.

“There are 36,000 veterans in the County of Fresno alone…There are over 1,000 currently serving military members in the Fresno-Clovis area,” Rios said. “What we do is bring awareness of our civic duty…And get our veterans to realize our community wants to provide them with an opportunity to own their home.”

Interested applicants can also visit Habitat’s website and apply online.

For veterans interested in becoming homeowners, Catalano says, “This is a pathway to homeownership, and I would encourage them [veterans] to apply.”

Anthony De Leon
Anthony De Leon is a journalist who started his career in 2017, covering sports for the Fresno City College Rampage, earning his Associate Degree in the process. He then moved on to Fresno State, working for The Collegian serving as Sports Editor, Managing Editor and Editor-in-Chief. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in print journalism. In August, he will begin attending Reynold’s School of Journalism Master’s program at the University of Nevada, Reno.