The House That $1,500 Built

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

What can you build for $1,500 these days? If you ask Johnetta Gardner of Shreveport, Louisiana, that question, she'll answer a "new three-bedroom, two-bath home". That's because Ms. Gardner now owns such a home, thanks to the help of the Northwest Louisiana Home Builders Association, which just completed its third Habitat house in Shreveport.

[Photo 1: HBA Presidents posing with new homeowner]
Outgoing HBA President Geep Moore presents Johnetta Gardner and her son, Kendrick, the keys to their new home while incoming HBA President Ed Jackson looks on.

Ms. Gardner's 10-year dream of becoming a homeowner is reality because a local builder donated the lot and most of the materials. And because the labor was donated, too, it only cost the Association about $1,500 in out-of-pocket expenses to build the home.

The events that led Ms. Gardner and her son, Kendrick, to their home began some time ago when, in response to an advertisement for Habitat in the local newspaper, she applied and was accepted into their program. She attended first-time homebuyer classes and contributed some 350 hours in sweat equity in order to meet the majority of her down payment obligation.

Local building supervisor Curtis Loftin says the Association finds working on Habitat projects very rewarding, and plans to construct at least one Habitat house a year.

[Photo 2: New home in Shreveport]
Johnetta Gardner's new home in Shreveport.

Established in 1955 as a non-profit organization to promote local builders, the Association now has some 550 member firms, and because of its size, its members have the capacity and expertise to make a real difference in people's lives.

Just ask Ms. Gardner; she'll gladly tell you what is possible with some community involvement, some sweat equity and $1,500.

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