FAIRFIELD — Jean Hamilton walked into the kitchen of her brand-new house, the house built by dozens of Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity volunteers, and marveled.
“When I look at this, I think of all the magazine pictures, Home and Garden and stuff like that,” Hamilton said.
Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity has just finished building two houses on the 300 block of Acacia Street after a three-year push. The nonprofit group will have a dedication ceremony at 10 a.m. Aug. 24.
It’s home sweet home for Hamilton, who is getting one house, and for Lolita Parker, who is getting the other. Each of the houses has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The move-in dates will come by month’s end.
Volunteers have taken a vacant lot and put up two single-story houses so well-built they look like they could have come from a new subdivision. Parker has watched the transformation.
“From a field to this,” Parker said as she stood outside her house-to-be near an American flag flying from the porch.
Yet the new houses don’t seem radically out of place in a residential neighborhood built decades ago near North Texas Street. They are designed architecturally to fit in.
Hamilton lives with her grandchildren Melanie Andersen, 16, Robert Andersen, 14, and Courtney Andersen, 12. Until recently, they lived in a two-bedroom, one-bathroom apartment. The children all slept in one room. For the past couple of months, they’ve stayed with Hamilton’s son and his wife in a Vacaville apartment.
Hamilton on Monday walked through a house so new that plastic is down for a walking trail on the carpet. She smiled as she saw such features as the two bathrooms. Finally, the family will have some space.
“Oh, it’s such a blessing,” Hamilton said. “These kids, I feel more like for them. They’ve been through so much. I feel they deserve this chance. They are good kids and it gives them a sense of security so they can work for their futures.”
Hamilton has yet to move into the house, but she’s already quite familiar with it. She spent more than 500 hours helping to build it. She helped put up walls and painted and mowed.
“Since the day they started building, I’ve only missed four work days,” Hamilton said.
She recalled the day in 2010 when she learned she’d been chosen to get a Habitat for Humanity house. It was Christmas Eve, making the house a kind of Christmas present.
Parker drives a bus for Fairfield and Suisun Transit. Her route takes her down North Texas Street a short distance from her new house.
She is a single mother raising four children, 19-year-old Brandi Hill, 16-year-old Eboni Hill, 13-year-old Amariea Hill and 5-year-old Dajuan Hill. They are crowded into an apartment with two bedrooms and one bathroom. Personal space is hard to come by.
“There’s nothing you couldn’t leave somewhere and it’s not shared in that apartment,” Parker said.
She contemplated what to do with the backyard, which is still dirt. She’s thinking of putting in concrete, something that is low maintenance. After all, this is her house and she gets to make those types of decisions.
Hamilton and Parker should have low electric bills, if any. Their houses have solar panels on the roofs.
“We’re trying to make the houses as green as possible,” Napa Solano Habitat for Humanity President Ann Cousineau said.
Habitat for Humanity chooses for its homeowners from among people who live in inadequate, overcrowded, unsafe and overly expensive housing, according to its website. Its homeowners must attend and complete homeowners classes in money management, homeownership and home maintenance, put in 250 hours-per-adult building the house and pay a $500 down payment and $2,000 for escrow closing costs.
The nonprofit is presently working to retrofit the home of an American Canyon veteran, Cousineau said. He injured his spinal cord in a hang-gliding accident, has been in the hospital for two years and will need to be able to get a wheelchair around the house.
The Acacia Street houses are not the first Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity project in Fairfield. It built two houses in 1994, another in 2004 and another in 2008, all located on Manor Place.
Another Fairfield house is planned, this one at Missouri and Taylor streets. No date for building is set.
The Acacia Street houses took a fundraising drive that raised some $300,000 and a major volunteer mobilization effort. Still, Cousineau didn’t sound like the organization is ready for a long rest after this latest effort.
“We want to keep going,” Cousineau said. “We have a great, dedicated group of volunteers. We don’t want to slow them down.”
Count Hamilton and Robert Andersen among them. Hamilton said they intend to volunteer for this next planned Fairfield project.
Solano-Napa Habitat for Humanity has also built homes and refurbished homes in Vacaville, Napa, Benicia and Vallejo. Go to www.solanonapahabitat.org for more information on the organization.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.