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‘Building Dreams’: Organizations partner to finish homes for seniors

Photo by Jeylin White                            
Riverdale City Council Member, Ancil Davis (from left), Willie Walker,  Sara Juhan, Liz Regulus and Riverdale City Council Member Kenny Ruffin, joined scores of volunteers, to help the Jonesboro-based Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity finish construction on five homes at the Tara Oaks Housing Subdivision, in Riverdale.

Photo by Jeylin White Riverdale City Council Member, Ancil Davis (from left), Willie Walker, Sara Juhan, Liz Regulus and Riverdale City Council Member Kenny Ruffin, joined scores of volunteers, to help the Jonesboro-based Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity finish construction on five homes at the Tara Oaks Housing Subdivision, in Riverdale.

Riverdale residents Sara Juhan, 64, Liz Regulus, 67, and Willie Walker, 72, had a reason to smile earlier this week. Why? These three women will soon become homeowners.

“I’m just feel so blessed and elated, that at my age I’m going to be able to own my own home,” said Juhan.

Melissa Chapman, C.E.O. for Habitat for Humanity, said through the Habitat for Humanity, Home Ownership Program, Juhan, Regulus, and Walker, within a month’s time, will be able to host their house-warming parties.

“This project was an opportunity for the Habitat and the community to come together, showcase their volunteerism, and give seniors the hope of becoming homeowners,” said Chapman.

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Photo by Jeylin White Scores of volunteers get in an early morning stretch before beginning construction on five homes. These residents came out earlier this week, to help the Jonesboro-based Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity finish construction on five homes at the Tara Oaks Housing Subdivision, in Riverdale.

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Photo by Jeylin White Scores of volunteers came out earlier this week to help the Jonesboro-based Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity finish construction on five homes at the Tara Oaks Housing Subdivision, in Riverdale.

On Tuesday morning, the women joined scores of volunteers, who rolled up their sleeves, put on their hard hats and grabbed a power tool, to help the Jonesboro-based Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity finish construction on five homes at the Tara Oaks Housing Subdivision, in Riverdale.

According to Riverdale City Council Member Kenny Ruffin, Tara Oaks is a housing subdivision specifically for seniors 55 and older, who are looking to become homeowners. “This project is very crucial,” said Ruffin. “With the building of these five homes, it will close of the gap in the neighborhood and allow the homeowners to have a homeowners association [committee.]”

Ruffin said the project is also a part of the Clayton County Neighborhood Stabilization Program. The purpose for the program, he said is to rehabilitate and resell 83 foreclosed houses in Clayton County over the next 10 months, and give residents an opportunity to become homeowners, as well as revitalize neighborhoods.

Ruffin said when the Tara Oaks Subdivision was built 10 years ago, the developer went bankrupt, and the last five homes in the subdivision were not completed. To help the City of Riverdale stabilize the neighborhood, Ruffin said Habitat for Humanity partnered with Georgia Power, to complete the project.

“The residents are ecstatic,” he said. “This is a fantastic project for the city, Habitat, and Georgia Power.”

Habitat’s Chapman said Georgia Power sponsored the project and will install an energy-efficient heating and cooling system in each of the homes, as part of its Earthcents program. “This will save residents a lot of money on their electric bills in the long run,” she said.

Tim Carter, energy efficiency program manager for Georgia Power, said Earthcents is a state-wide program that has just rolled out this year. He said Georgia Power's Commercial Energy Efficiency program encourages customers to incorporate high-efficiency measures into their facility. He said available incentives help customers reduce the cost to install high-efficiency equipment, resulting in lower power costs through a reduction in energy use.

“Energy-efficient construction is 15 percent more efficient and will save residents hundreds of dollars on their electric bills,” said Carter. He added having this equipment installed in the homes will especially be beneficial to seniors, seeing how the summer months quickly are approaching. “It’s going to be a hot summer and those electric bills are usually pretty high, so this will help eliminate some of those costs,” he said.

Future homeowner Liz Regulus said she was happy to hear she would be able to save on money on her electric bills this summer. “I’m on a fixed income, and with this economy I could save some money,” said Regulus. “So it’s a great thing, what Georgia Power is doing.”

Terry Chapman, of no relation to Melissa Chapman, is the site developer for Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity. He said the homes should be complete in six weeks. “We’ll have 40 volunteers working from 8 a.m. until we run out of gas,” said Terry Chapman.

Melissa Chapman said anyone interested in learning more about Southern Crescent Habitat for Humanity Home Ownership Programs can visit the web site at: www.schabitat.org. She said the organization’s mission is to take modest-income families and put them in homes.