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HUD Secretary Commends Habitat for Humanity's Jacksonville Partnership

HUD Secretary Commends Habitat for Humanity’s Jacksonville Partnership

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 25 -The Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Mel Martinez visited Fairway Oaks today, a neighborhood in north Jacksonville with 85 Habitat for Humanity homes and 67 Housing Authority units. The purpose of the visit was to celebrate the Fairway Oaks Development and to commend Jacksonville’s public, private and nonprofit sectors in working together to solve affordable housing needs.

“Fairway Oaks is an excellent example of the public sector and private sectors working together to develop decent and affordable housing,” said Martinez. “ ‘Sweat equity’ programs, like Habitat for Humanity, help more and more low-income families open the door to homeownership.”

After visiting with families in the Fairway Oaks community, Secretary Martinez spoke about the success of the partnership between Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville and the Jacksonville Housing Authority. He was joined at the event by Mayor of Jacksonville, John Delaney; David Hicks, chair of the Jacksonville Housing Authority; J. Randal Evans, chair of the Jacksonville Habitat affiliate; Stephen Edmonds, president of the Northeast Florida Builders Association; Gary Garczynski, president-elect of the National Association of Home Builders; and, Tom Jones, representing Habitat for Humanity International.

Tom Jones announced that Habitat for Humanity International, working in coordination with the National Association of Home Builders and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, would attempt to duplicate the success of the Fairway Oaks community in three other locations during the next three years. The program, Hope in Housing, seeks to join local Habitat affiliates with the local Housing Authority and the private sector to revive communities by building and renovating houses for low-income families.

“It is truly incredible what Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville has completed together with their partners in the Fairway Oaks neighborhood and the city of Jacksonville,” said Millard Fuller, president and founder of Habitat for Humanity International. “With the help of HUD and NAHB, we can learn from this success and expand it across the country to build more houses for families in need.”

Gary Garczinski, president-elect of the National Association of Home Builders, states, “Building 101 homes in 17 days is next to impossible, but the Northeast Florida Builders Association rose to the occasion and completed the task. This is a perfect example of what homebuilders can do in cooperation with their local government with the help of Habitat for Humanity. We would like to see other cities take on this challenge and meet with the same success that was experienced here in Jacksonville.”

Fairway Oaks opened as a public housing development in 1971 as Golfbrook Terrace. By the early 1990’s, the community had deteriorated and no families lived there. At the beginning of this century, the Jacksonville Housing Authority and Jacksonville Habitat for Humanity joined together for the Fairway Oaks project. The Housing Authority remodeled 67 units and sold HFH of Jacksonville 85 sites to build Habitat homes. The 85 homes were built (along with 17 others at a nearby site) as part Habitat for Humanity International’s 2000 Jimmy Carter Work Project. The Northeast Florida Homebuilders Association was key to building these houses in three weeks, receiving the prestigious HOPE Award for this work with Habitat for Humanity. The partnerships in Jacksonville have resulted in Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville being the largest Habitat producer in the United States, building 200 houses in 2001.

Habitat for Humanity of Jacksonville (HabiJax) homes are sold, at no profit, to families who have been recommended by the family selection committee and approved by the board of directors. Families are responsible for monthly payments of about $300 on a 25-year, interest-free mortgage. The payments cover the mortgage, taxes, insurance and a maintenance escrow. Mortgage money is paid into a revolving “Fund for Humanity”, which supports the construction of other homes.

Habitat for Humanity International is an ecumenical Christian ministry dedicated to eliminating poverty housing. Founded by Millard Fuller, along with his wife, Linda, Habitat for Humanity International and its affiliates in more than 2,000 communities in 83 nations have built and sold more than 100,000 homes to partner families with no-profit, zero-interest mortgages.