The cold couldn’t take away the cheer felt on Oct. 27 as officials with Habitat of Humanity for Collin County and the city of McKinney broke ground on a project to provide more affordable housing.

A number of people braved the chilly and damp conditions to help celebrate the construction milestone for the Cotton Groves, a 2.75-acre neighborhood comprised of shipping containers that will offer 35 homes for qualifying low- to moderate-income families to purchase. Residents’ monthly payments will cost no more than 30% of their household’s gross monthly income.

The Cotton Groves project is backed by Habitat for Humanity of Collin County and aims to offer a way for low-income residents to become homeowners and build equity, CEO and President Celeste Cox said.

“The need is very great in Collin County,” Cox said in her address to those in attendance. “Our average home sale price [in Collin County] is $385,000, and our average family income is $42,000 a year. The purchase of these homes is well out of reach for many of the families that apply to our programs.”

She added that in the last two years, 870 people have applied for Habitat for Humanity services.

“Our organization realized that we had to find a solution to use the precious land that is available to build more homes, thus serving more families,” Cox said.

Land at the intersection of Kings Row and Bumpas Street was purchased using a grant from the McKinney Community Development Corporation, and construction began to flatten the land and get the homes ready for placement. Cox said in an August interview that the homes should debut before the end of the year.

The McKinney Community Development Corporation funds projects that enhance the city, and it is funded with a portion of city sales tax revenue, McKinney City Council member Charlie Philips said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“When you shop local, great things happen here in McKinney, like this project,” Philips said. “It's an honor for me to stand here and give my blessing and the mayor's blessings over this project, and I hope that in the years to come, this project will be an example to other cities of how to provide affordable homes in a creative manner.”

The neighborhood will feature a 2,600-square-foot amenity center, which will offer social, health and fitness opportunities as well as a community park. The townhomes will feature three- and four-bedroom floor plans, each with a covered carport and a large patio or deck. The designs of the townhomes are affordable and accessible for potential residents, Cox said.

A prototype of the shipping container townhome is being built at the McKinney ReStore center and will serve as a model home for the community. It will be open for tours from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Dec. 2, Cox said

The event also introduced the first four families who will be living in the Cotton Groves. One of the homeowners, LaTonia Dashield, thanked those in attendance for supporting the project.

“I look forward to calling this place our home,” she said. “We’ll actually have a home. Instead of renting, we’ll have a home.”

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify that the average home sale price of a Collin County home is $385,000.