The shovels barely dug into the ground Wednesday evening but that little clump of dirt in the golden shovel held by Heather Gomes had a big impact on the crowd gathered around the single mom and her two children.
Gomes, a 35-year-old doctor’s office receptionist who lives in Cameron Park, had just taken her first step toward homeownership. She and son Aaron, 10, and daughter Addison, 3, are an El Dorado County Habitat for Humanity family and will sometime in the next year move into their very own home on La Crescenta Drive in Cameron Park.
“I don’t know yet,” Gomes said when asked how she felt about her Habitat home. “I’m still in shock.”
Gomes, along with help from family and friends, must contribute 500 hours of sweat equity to earn the home. The requirement is a good lesson for everyone, especially the children, according to Candy Alexander, EDC Habitat’s executive director.
“They’ve taught their kids something you can’t learn from a textbook,” she explained. “They work hard and have a home to show for it.”
Aaron said he’s excited about having his own room. He has to share with his sister right now. The 10-year-old said he’d help “dig up stuff.” Lisa Florie with Habitat sponsor Union Bank also reminded him, “There’s a lot of painting to do.”
“Painting’s fun,” Aaron replied.
EDC Habitat for Humanity has plans to build four units on the lot with Gomes’ home and a second families’ home being the first phase. It will take between nine months and a year to build the side-by-side two-story units (they share one common wall), each about 1,300 square feet with three bedrooms and two bathrooms, according to Alexander.
The second phase plans call for the other two more in one building, one upstairs and the other — a unit designed for a handicapped client — on the ground floor. EDC Habitat for Humanity still needs families for those homes, Alexander said.
This is the first EDC Habitat project in El Dorado County in five years. The last project was built in Pollock Pines.
“With the real estate market so high (in the previous years) it was just unaffordable to build,” Alexander explained.
The total cost for the new project is more than $400,000.
Funding for the predevelopment work — architectural design, studies and engineering — came from the county Housing, Community and Economic Development Office’s predevelopment fund (a $130,000 loan). The county also deferred some fees because this is an affordable housing project.
“We’re very excited to see this project come to fruition,” said C.J. Freeland with HCED.
Funding for construction comes from private donations and sponsors, including Union Bank, Wells Fargo, Umpqua Bank, El Dorado Savings, Straight Line Roofing, Big Lots and Home Depot. PG&E recently pledged $25,000 to outfit the units with solar power, making them more affordable, Alexander said.
EDC Habitat for Humanity also sponsors two fundraisers each year. Hundreds recently attended the HoeDown for Habitat in Burke Junction. The Hold ’em for Habitat casino night and poker tournament will be held Saturday, Oct. 22, on the third floor of Building 300 in El Dorado Hills Town Center. Doors open at 5 p.m. and the cards fly at 6:30.
For more information about El Dorado County Habitat for Humanity or to volunteer call (530) 621-2111 or visit edchabitat.com.