Team building effort

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Durham Herald Sun

Anyone who has watched, perhaps impatiently, while his or her home was being built knows that it can be a lengthy process.  Any home builder will tell you, yes, it takes time.

So to see not just one, but three homes built in one week – 6 ½ days, to be precise – on one block is impressive. To have that happen for families who not long ago would have thought having their own home was an unreachable dream is uplifting. To at the same time continue rehabbing a neighborhood that had fallen on hard times is an added plus.

That’s what Habitat for Humanity and the Home Builders Association of Durham, Orange and Chatham Counties did last week along South Briggs Avenue in North East Central Durham. The non-profit, the builders group and six builder teams and their vendors launched the “Home Builders Blitz” on a Saturday morning, June 7, and at 11:45 a.m. Friday the homes passed their last inspection. Moments later, the partners and the three families moving into the homes celebrated.

The blitz is a national event, and last week home builders associations and Habitat organizations across the country planned to build 300 homes.  That is on top of more than 1,000 homes built during three previous national blitzes – in 2006, 2008 and 2012. 

In the first blitz “more than 1,000 professional home builders teamed with 130 Habitat affiliates across the United States, working on 459 homes, to provide housing for nearly 2,000 people,” according to Habitat for Humanity’s website.  Participation lagged in the next two events, as the housing industry struggled through the Great Recession and its aftermath, but still built or renovated 263 homes in 2009 and 193 in 2012.

The blitzes have been held from coast to coast, with a heavy concentration in North Carolina. That should come as no surprise, as the home building blitz has its roots right here in the Triangle.

In 2002, the Habitat website says, “Habitat for Humanity of Wake County and local custom home builder Tom Gibson formed a partnership. They recruited 12 additional homebuilders to build one house each in a five-day period, donating as much of the materials as possible.”

From that seed grew the 2006 national blitz. Kevin Campbell, now director of Habitat for Wake County, moved from Habitat’s national headquarters to Raleigh to work with Gibson on that first national event, The News and Observer wrote Sunday in naming Gipson it’s “Tar Heel of the Week” for his efforts.

For Durham Habitat, this year’s three homes brought to 20 the number the affiliate has done in the four blitzes. That has “transformed the lives of 20 families by helping them and their future generations forever break the cycle of poverty,” executive director Blake Strayhorn wrote in our Durham Herald section recently. He also noted the impact of having this year’s homes “on once overgrown and vacant NEDC lots.”

“What an accomplishment,” Strayhorn emailed after Friday’s celebration.

We couldn’t agree more.

Habitat Success Stories

Pearlie's home was so damaged that neighbors thought it was abandoned. Habitat partnered with the City of Durham to replace Pearlie's roof, a damaged wall, and exterior siding. Pearlie said, "It lifts my spirits. Habitat volunteers are beautiful people."