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It takes a Habitat village: Families get to work on new homes

By Tom Durkin
Special to The Union
Mark Strate takes a look at the blueprints for the Habitat for Humanity housing project that broke ground Thursday afternoon off Joyce Drive in Grass Valley. The project will be constructed in the lot behind him.
Photo: Elias Funez

On Thursday, single parents Angel Garcia and Angela Edie picked up “golden shovels” and broke ground on their new, four-bedroom homes.

In a ground-breaking ceremony in sweltering heat at the edge of a rocky field on Joyce Drive in Grass Valley, Garcia, Edie and their children were introduced to a small gathering of Nevada County Habitat for Humanity supporters.

Both single parents of three children, Edie and Garcia are destined to be the first of 12 sweat-equity homeowners in Heritage Oaks II. The incipient neighborhood is across the street from Heritage Oaks I, an already established “habitat village.”

Habitat homeowner-builder Angel Garcia stands with his daughter Victoria in the field that will soon become part of their home neighborhood.
Photo: Courtesy Andy Wright Habitat for Humanity

Long championed by former President Jimmy Carter, the nonprofit Habitat for Humanity is an international NGO (non-governmental organization) that helps hardworking, low-income families build their own homes.

NC Habitat has been assisting local families realize the dream of homeownership for 25 years.

With the median price of a home in Nevada County hovering at $599,000, NC Habitat for Humanity is the only local builder of truly affordable homes to own in Nevada County, according to Andy Wright, NC Habitat communications coordinator.

Thursday’s Habitat for Humanity groundbreaking ceremony brought out the golden shovels and helmets.
Photo: Elias Funez


“Let’s grow! Now is the time to be bold!” Executive Director Lorraine Larson told guests who were gathered onsite. They were sheltered from the blazing sun by a pop-up tent canopy.

NC Habitat is looking to “increase capacity” from an average of two homes a year to as many as four within the next five years, she said.

It’s going to take a lot of money, materials donations, volunteers and 500 hours of homeowner sweat equity to make the homes affordable at $190,000 to $220,000 with 1% down, Larson said.

“The idea is to get mortgage payments at or below 30% of their income,” she said.


During the dusty ground-breaking ceremony, champagne-sipping audience members heard that the field next to them must be prepared by grading and installing water, sewer and power lines before construction can even begin.

The cost? $750,000.

The good news: $500,000 has already been raised.

More good news: NC Habitat board President Bill Croker and his wife Carolyn have promised a dollar-for-dollar match of donations up to $50,000.

People gathered Thursday afternoon at the site of future Habitat for Humanity homes.
Photo: Elias Funez

Moreover, attendees were assured, “Every penny goes directly toward a new family’s home, and you can see where 100% of your donation goes every time you drive by a Habitat home.”

NC Habitat accepts donations of cash, stock, assets, vehicles, real estate and other items of value. Donations are tax deductible.


“This is a great opportunity,” Angel Garcia said. “We can’t wait to start work.”

Currently, Garcia and his three kids live in a three-bedroom apartment on Sutton Way in the Glenbrook Basin. He said he and the kids would do “whatever it takes” to put in their 500 hours of labor into their new home.

The kids are Nathan, 17; Marc, 15; and Victoria, 12. Asked if the boys want their own bedrooms, Garcia grinned and said, “Oh, yeah!”

Garcia works as a cook at Eskaton. He said he moved his family to Nevada County about 10 years ago. It was hard at first, he said, but now, “I don’t want to move back.”


“I applied to Nevada County Habitat six times in seven years,” Angela Edie said, proud of her persistence.

A customer services agent for Southwest Airlines in Sacramento, she has three children: Juliana, 18; Juliet, 12, and Xavier, 8.

Juliana is a Nevada Union valedictorian with a 4.3 grade point average, Edie said. Her daughter couldn’t be at Thursday’s ceremony because she was working as a sheet metal apprentice.

The family is currently renting a house in Morgan Ranch, but it is going to be sold next year, Edie said.

Having their own home will be “a blessing to our family,” Edie smiled. “It will give us some stability.”

She said they hope to move in by the end of 2023.

Thursday’s golden shovel groundbreaking ceremony for Habitat for Humanity in Grass Valley.
Photo: Courtesy Andy Wright Habitat for Humanity

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer in Nevada County. He may be contacted at tjdurkin3@gmail.com or http://www.tomdurkin-media.net


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