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The Families of Carney Place: Chapter One

A new series on how a community is built
By Phil Kloer

Volunteers from Asheville area Lutheran churches come together to raise the first wall on a Habitat house in a new neighborhood called Carney Place. Photo by Phil Kloer.

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The Families of Carney Place


The raising of the first wall of a Habitat for Humanity house happens so fast that if you glance away, you can miss it. One moment about 20 volunteers are lined up, squatting, holding onto the top of the wall, and then they swiftly lift it into place in unison.

While most of them hold it steady, a few workers bustle along the joint between the wall and the floor, nailing it into place. When everyone steps back, what was once just a wooden floor on a cement foundation is now reaching upward, one step closer to being a house.

Welcome to Carney Place
Carney Place is a new subdivision that is being built by the Asheville (North Carolina) Area Habitat for Humanity affiliate on what was once a scraggly, weed-choked field a half-mile from downtown West Asheville.

The name Carney Place was bestowed by a longtime, anonymous Asheville Habitat donor, because it had a personal family meaning.

Begun in February 2011, the ambitious project is scheduled to be completed in December 2012, when 22 two-, three- and four-bedroom houses are finished on a little street named Trellis Court. Nearly all of the homes will be filled with families with children.

“This is our dream”
When the Gherasim family’s first wall was raised recently in Asheville, N.C., Nelea, a stay-at-home mother of five young children, held baby Adela.

Her husband, Ion, a bus driver for the city of Asheville, lifted the wall along with the volunteers. He’s been putting in sweat equity building other families’ houses in Asheville for several months, but said, “I have really been wanting to work on my house, also.”

The seven Gherasims currently live in a double-wide mobile home with three bedrooms. “In the wintertime, it’s very bad there,” Ion said. The master bedroom doesn’t heat properly, so they close it off and live in the rest of the house.

When it rains, their lot is flooded due to poor drainage, and it’s too muddy for the kids to ride their bikes.

“Living in a house like this is our dream,” he said of the family’s new home in progress.

Read further: Chapter One: Meetings