Santa Paula: Habitat for Humanity Celebrates 60th New Home

By Sheryl Hamlin

About 80 people attended the dedication of two new homes built and financed by Habitat for Humanity Ventura County.

Pastor Jenny Crosswhite (below) of First Christian Church of Santa Paula gave the Blessing, in which she reminded the attendees that we are all Inter-connected. Ms. Crosswhite is also the Vice Mayor of the Santa Paula City council. The row of new homes on “Trinity Lane” is located in Santa Paula on a street formerly named “Cemetery Drive”.


Also attending from Santa Paula were Council Member John Procter and Mayor Martin Hernandez (below, L-R), who was a featured speaker. In his talk, Mayor Hernandez stressed the concept of “neighbors helping neighbors”, saying that he, too, was a neighbor. These homes, he said, would allow students to study in quiet and families to dine together.


Steve Dwyer, the Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Ventura County, explained that this project started four years ago when Habitat bought the property. Twenty months ago construction started, managed by Chris Grasso, construction site manager. The goal is eight families into homes by May 2017. Habitat has land for 25 additional homes in both Oxnard and Santa Paula. He said that Habitat is the only organization working to build affordable homes. These three homes represent 1,100 volunteers providing over 20,000 hours of time. Habitat also relies on the State of California, the federal government and the city.

State Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson (below) spoke about “housing insecurity”, a serious topic on which she and her colleagues in Sacramento are focusing. For example, using monies from Prop 63 Mental Health, they are looking at housing and mental health. She said there is an initiative called “No Place Like Home” to provide housing for homeless, which “re-purposes Prop 63 money”, according to the website.She also said she was standing next to Governor Brown when he signed the new minimum wage law, which has a 6 to 7 year implementation and a “pause switch” if the economy falters. She presented a recognition award to Habitat of Ventura from the State Senate for making Ventura County a better place.


Gifts to the families came from local merchants like Vons as well as nationally from Procter and Gamble. Each family has hundreds of hours of “sweat equity” in the homes, in addition to the volunteer hours. The selection process is rigid. 200 families applied for 8 homes with the ability to repay the loan as paramount. A home may not be rented or sold outside of the Habitat family. Each family will have a designated “Family Partner’, who is a mentor and a coach. The family partners presented each family with a collage of the building of the homes during the construction period. The 4 bedroom, 1 and ½ bath, two story homes each feature yards and double garages.  The street features a lovely, old row of Eucalyptus trees and sidewalks.


The new lucky homeowners are the family of Roberto and Zainada Magaña and the family of Ramiro and Maria Viorato-Hernandez. Both homes were sponsored by faith based organization: St. Maximilian Kolbe Catholic Church and Thrivent Financial, a Christian based lending organization. The Deacon of St. Maximilian, John Kreuer, blessed the family bibles during the formal dedication of the homes to the new owners. David Harrington, Board Chair of Habitat for Humanity Ventura County, said “tears from the big guy on top” as it started to rain (below).


The attendees (below) were able to tour the homes after the dedication and enjoy refreshments.



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