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posted: 5/28/2013 3:10 PM

Fox Valley Habitat plans 5 new homes in Aurora

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Five new Habitat for Humanity houses planned for Solfisburg Avenue and Beckwith Street in Aurora are set to replace a wooded area behind Cowherd Middle School and make homeownership possible for five more families.

The homes will be a welcome addition to the neighborhood, said Alderman Scheketa Hart-Burns, whose ward includes the intersection where Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity is seeking city permission to build a five-lot subdivision.

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"I'm really excited to see it come to fruition and see the families get a house," Hart-Burns said. "You want to see people own their own homes, and this gives them the opportunity to do that."

Jeff Barrett, executive director of Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity, said the new houses each will have three or four bedrooms, a full bathroom and a powder room and a detached two-car garage. After buying the 2.7-acre lot for $75,000, Habitat is in the process of raising funds to construct the houses, which will cost $110,000 each.

"We're looking forward to building up on that property," Barrett said. "We can make an impact on the neighborhood, too. These aren't giveaway homes, our families are hardworking families."

Four families are on a waiting list for a Fox Valley Habitat home, which they will spend up to 500 hours helping construct before they pay back their mortgage without interest. Barrett said those on the waiting list -- families who make between $22,000 and $45,000 a year and meet several other criteria -- may receive one of the new homes to be built on Solfisburg or a rehabbed house elsewhere in the Aurora area.

"It's really a partnership with hardworking families who are contributing already," he said.

Pending city approval likely within the next couple months, Barrett said Habitat aims to begin in August or September knocking down trees on the wooded site and grading the land to prepare for construction. The nonprofit group will build one house at a time, moving from east to west on the site, and hopes to have the exterior of the first home constructed before winter hits. That way interior work can continue during the colder months, Barrett said.

The five new homes will join other houses built or rehabbed by Habitat on Solfisburg, Grand Boulevard and Farnsworth Avenue in Hart-Burns' ward. The Solfisburg site has stood unimproved for about 10 years because a developer with plans to build on it died before making progress, she said.

"Habitat has always helped those who are really trying to own property," Hart-Burns said. "I'm very excited about that."

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