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What will you build? Better communities

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Macon’s Lynmore Estates is on the mend with help from Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.

Christina Hooker’s home is one sign of the recovery.

With Macon Area Habitat for Humanity, the 43-year-old working mother transformed a downtrodden duplex—which she said “looked like a drug house”—into a decent, secure home in this post-World War II, working-class neighborhood in Macon, Georgia.

Showcasing her new house, Hooker and her sons Joshua, 16, and Brandon, 20, rejoiced in the simple things: the colorful outdoor mosaic tiles in the walkway leading around the side of the house; a donated piano in a prominent place in the living room; and a separate bathroom for mom. “My cup is running over,” Hooker said during the tearful house dedication.

Five years ago, 75 percent of the properties in Lynmore Estates were either rented or abandoned. Empty lots, boarded-up houses, train tracks and chain-link fences divided the land, disconnecting residents and creating an uneasy environment. Half the population lived at or below poverty level, with job opportunities sparse.

Since 2005, Habitat Macon has built 19 houses in the neighborhood; Hooker’s house is the affiliate’s first completed rehabilitated home. The affiliate’s goal is to build 46 houses by 2013.

In June, Macon joined 161 other affiliates in HFHI’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, a national effort to improve existing neighborhoods. NRI offers affiliates several approaches to community development, including programs such as A Brush With Kindness for external repairs and yard work and weatherization to make existing homes more energy efficient. NRI also urges affiliates to focus on rehabilitating abandoned or foreclosed properties in addition to building new homes using green standards.

Learn more about Habitat’s Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative.