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Habitat For Humanity Moving on Cupertino Project

Prospective home buyers encourage to attend one of two orientations this week; volunteers gearing up to help build and walk in fundraiser Oct. 16

After months of delays and pulling together plans for its Cupertino four-unit project on Cleo Avenue, Habitat For Humanity Silicon Valley officials are ready to find the families that will one day buy and live in the houses.

The organization is hosting this week, one on Thursday, Sept. 15, and another on Saturday, Sept. 17. Both are from 6 to 8 p.m. in the Cupertino Community Hall.

Simultaneously, potential volunteers for the , one of the four units being built with help from more than 50 different houses of worship in the valley, are gathering Thursday night for an organizational meeting in Sunnyvale.

Don Varney, Habitat's faith relations manager, said all people, whether they are active in a faith or not, are welcome to the meeting from 7 to 8:30 p.m., at Crosswalk Community Church, 445 S. Mary Ave., Sunnyvale.

For Potential Home Buyers

Starting with this week's orientations, Habitat officials are beginning the selection process to find the four families that will purchase one of the 2-bedroom, 1 1/2 bath units at below market rates, with zero percent interest and no money down.

Homeownership Counselor Alexandra Pio di Savoia said they are looking first for buyers that either live or work in Cupertino,

Typically Habitat Silicon Valley looks for home buyers who make 30 to 50 percent of the area median income. For a family of four in the Silicon Valley, that would mean an income between $31,000 and $51,800.

Pio di Savoia said Cupertino officials are allowing the group to include potential buyers who make up to 60 percent of the median household income, or $62,000.

She said Habitat requires home buyers have a debt to income ratio of under 40 percent, including the proposed house payment. She said home buyers are only required to make a monthly mortgage payment of 30 percent of the family's monthly income.

Interested buyers are required to be at one of the two orientations this week, and return with the completed application in two weeks. Over the next two to three months a selection committee of experienced volunteers consider the applications and interview families.

Among other things, Pio di Savoia said the selection committee is looking for families that are willing to provide "sweat equity" labor of 500 hours in the building of the homes (friends and family can provide half that), complete a homeowner course, and share their story later in the community.

She said they expect to choose the four families in time for the first "wall raising" later this fall. The homes will take approximately a year to 18 months to complete.

Volunteers a Part of the Process, Too

While the selection process is going on, more than 50 churches, synagogues and mosques are coming together in six geographical "alliances", Varney said. The goal is to have congregations in each alliance work together to organize volunteers and help with funding.

Varney is encouraging congregation members to bring interested friends along who aren't a part of a faith community.

"We're generalizing community of faith to the community at large," Varney said.

And volunteers do not need prior construction experience, nor is their a limit on age or physical ability. Although some volunteers will actually help build the home, others will be needed on site to help check in volunteers, serve meals and snacks, provide music and entertainment and do set-up and clean-up tasks.

Habitat Walk Home October 16

Varney also said the group is hoping the Cupertino community will come out for a fundraising walk on Sunday, Oct. 16, at 12:30 p.m. The "Habitat Walk Home" starts at St. Joseph of Cupertino Catholic Church, 10110 N. De Anza Blvd., and stretches to the Cleo Avenue site, near the intersection of De Anza and Highway 85.

He said city officials are very supportive of the 4.2 mile walk up De Anza Boulevard.

There's a minimum $25 donation per walker, $15 for students and children, or $60 per family of four. Walk reseravations can be made at http://habitatwalkhome.eventbrite.com/.

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