Local Women Join Together to Put Finishing Touches on Habitat for Humanity’s Desiderio Project

Women Will Join Together to Put Finishing Touches on Last Construction Phase of Habitat for Humanity\'s Desiderio ProjectWomen Will Join Together to Put Finishing Touches on Last Construction Phase of Habitat for Humanity\'s Desiderio ProjectWomen Will Join Together to Put Finishing Touches on Last Construction Phase of Habitat for Humanity\'s Desiderio Project

By BRANDON VILLALOVOS

7:22 pm | May 9, 2018


Women from all over the region are joining forces Thursday, Friday and Saturday to put the finishing touches on the Habitat for Humanity Desiderio Project on the eastern floor of the Arroyo immediately south of the Colorado Street Bridge, where families are set to move into the new homes on June 9.

About 200 women are expected to team up as a part of Habitat’s annual Women Build Program to complete the project’s landscaping, marking the largest turnout since the program’s launch in 2016.

“This year’s Women Build is an example of how people from all across the community are rallying behind the cause of affordable housing. The fact that this year is bigger than any of the others gives us great hope that we will get the resources and the volunteers and the supporters behind us to serve even more families,” said Frances Hardy, Director of Resource Development for San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.

The nine new affordable homes are a collaborative project involving the City of Pasadena, the United States Army, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity.

“Our women builders are playing a critical role in helping us complete a large portion of the landscaping,” said Hardy.”They’ll [also] be doing painting and various other tasks.”

The project occupies the former Desiderio Army Reserve Center, declared surplus by the United States Army and recommended for closure in 2005. After a lengthy public hearing process, the City decided to convert the property into a new neighborhood park and affordable housing.

The property includes a $3 million public city park, called Desiderio Park.

Selected families purchased their houses through no-profit, no-interest loans and each family invested 500 hours of sweat equity towards the purchase price of their new homes. Three of the nine affordable bungalow courtyard homes were reserved for veterans.

District 2 Councilmember Margaret McAustin led the first Women Build day in 2016 where she and her team of volunteers laid the framing for the houses that are now standing near completion.

“Working to actually build homes [we were framing that day…] together created a bond that I will always feel with the women who participated that day. It’s difficult to describe the feeling of working with your hands to build something that will house families who will make Pasadena their home. It’s as if we were literally creating community,” said McAustin about her experience in 2016.

“Women understand the necessity of housing stability in order to raise their families. Housing stability allows women to focus on other areas of their lives, and their children and families lives. This is what strengthens communities. Women get it,” McAustin explained.

The First Lady of Pasadena, Maria Tornek; Melanie Holden, who is married to Assemblymember Chris Holden; other city leaders and influencers, future Habitat Homeowners, and Habitat staff will be among the volunteers expected to grab tools and roll up their sleeves.

“This is an amazing program that empowers women while bringing volunteers together to make a difference in the community,” said Holden.

“Women leadership at Habitat for Humanity is woven into the very fabric of our organization,” said Hardy. “Utilizing the strengths of women as a solution to the affordable housing crisis is who we are and also who we’ve been. It’s really an extension of who we are, day in and day out, as an organization,” she added.

Over the next two years, the San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity is committed to doubling the number of families the organization has served from 94 families (comprised of 428 low-income individuals) to 200 families (about 800 low-income people).

Registration for Women Build 2018 is now closed, since the maximum number of volunteers needed have already signed up.

For more information, to donate or to volunteer in the future, visit sgvHabitat.org.