The Montgomery County affiliate has built 101 homes since its establishment in 1989 and primarily serves families that live in homes with structural problems and intermittent water, electrical, heating and sewage services.
The organization also offers classes for families on budgeting, financial education, deed restrictions, home maintenance and basic home construction.
“It’s not a Band-Aid,” said Isabel McDanel, development director for Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity. “You are changing the way [our clients] think about money, you are changing the way they think about homeownership and you are giving them the confidence that they need.”
The Cedar Creek development broke ground in 2009 and is the first neighborhood attempted by the Montgomery County affiliate. Once complete the development will feature 107 single-family homes near the South Seventh Street and Silverdale Drive intersection in Conroe.
“The strength of Cedar Creek neighborhood is that everyone there is going through the same process,” said Barbara Smith, executive director for Montgomery County Habitat for Humanity. “People come from different places and have different backgrounds, but they all have a shared experience so it makes it a very focused and positive environment.”
Prior to partnering with Habitat for Humanity in March 2012, Cedar Creek resident Jessica Lamas lived in a one-bedroom house with her six children for eight years. After going through the application process, Lamas and her family completed the required 350 hours of volunteer work and moved into their home in 2013.
Lamas continues to volunteer after completing the mandatory hours, she said.
“[Habitat for Humanity] was a door opener for me to be able to provide something for my kids,” Lamas said. “It is important to me because I want to help, just like many of the people who built my house helped me.”
The Habitat for Humanity affiliate hopes to start a new neighborhood soon after the completion of Cedar Creek, but no timeline has been set.
“One of the characteristics that sticks out in all of [the residents’] stories is the determination they have to change their lives,” McDanel said. “These individuals are determined to make a positive change for themselves and for their children. They want something better for their children.”
Habitat for Humanity International was founded in 1976 to provide safe living conditions for people around the world, according to the organization. The nonprofit organization has used volunteer work as well as corporate and church sponsorships to build and repair more than 1 million homes for more than 5 million people worldwide.