NOHFH Breaks Ground On 20th Home

The Northern Ocean Habitat For Humanity recently celebrated its 20th anniversary, and also the groundbreaking of its 20th home. The group partners with families who are looking for a “hand-up, not a hand-out” in owning their first home.javascript:window[“$iceContent”]

The groundbreaking was delayed for a year because of the coronavirus, but shovels hit the dirt in the latest property on Grand Central Parkway in Berkeley Township. The land was part of an estate given to Habitat.

As to who will live in the house, that’s still to be decided. They have an application process which wraps up on April 12. They are looking for families who fit financial and other considerations. They are also looking for people who can put “sweat equity” into the home, swinging hammers alongside the other volunteers, and be part of the process.

 Right now, that family is probably living in substandard housing and paying too much for it, said Bob Conway, construction director.

“Everyone should have a safe and affordable place to live,” said Kristine Novakowski, executive director of Northern Ocean Habitat for Humanity, during the groundbreaking ceremony.

Unfortunately, the ceremony itself had to be recorded with some speakers edited in because of social distancing guidelines. In previous years, the event drew a small crowd of local leaders, volunteers, and members of the business community who were providing financial support.

The house will hopefully be done by summer or early fall, officials said.

Two of the speakers, via remote recordings, were single mothers recently helped by Habitat. Katiria Rodriguez and Gloria Walling both have been working in the health care field through the pandemic. They gave testimonials on how having a house of their own, with a shed and laundry area, enabled them to keep their families safe so they wouldn’t bring the virus home. They also gave empowering advice to the families who will be chosen.

A home is even more important now, during the pandemic, Novakowski said. People are working from home. Kids are learning from home.

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