- The Washington Times - Friday, April 20, 2001

No one was happier than 12-year-old Alvin Jeter yesterday when he assisted 30 students from American and Gallaudet universities on the first day of construction for his new home in the Trinidad neighborhood of Northeast.
"I cant believe this is happening for us," said the youngster as he poured glasses of lemonade for the volunteers. "I think Im going to like living here."
Americans collegiate Habitat for Humanity chapter, coordinating with their counterparts in the D.C. chapter and with volunteers from Gallaudet, began building the home yesterday. The Jeter family, headed by Michelle Jeter, 38, a home health aide for AIDS and cancer patients, is expected to move in early next year.
The project, including land and materials, is expected to cost $70,000, and the students have raised all but $6,500 of that total, said American junior Thomas Volk, 21, president of his schools Habitat chapter. "We should reach our goal by completion of the house," he said.
Students are pushing hard to finish the first phase of home construction — the framework — by Sunday, working every day in shifts of 30. After Sunday, the volunteers will continue working on the project every Saturday.
According to Mr. Volk, organizers timed the project to coincide with todays National Youth Service America Day. The D.C. students were among an estimated 3 million youth volunteers working on community projects across the country this week.
"We received a $2,000 grant for being a part of the program," Mr. Volk said, adding that half will go to building costs and half to Gallaudet to help start its own Habitat chapter.
Mrs. Jeter, who is currently in public housing, first found out about Habitat three years ago from a co-worker, but she wasnt sure if she qualified. She applied anyway. "I was in a group of 60 people, all qualified. But I guess I was the lucky one who got my credit and budgeting in order the fastest," Mrs. Jeter said.
"This house means that my children will have something I never had: a home that we own," she said.
Habitat for Humanity is an international nonprofit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing for the low-income families.
To qualify for a D.C. Habitat house, family income cannot exceed double the poverty level based on the number of dependents in the household.
"You have to have decent credit and if selected, complete 300 hours of labor on the home," said Diane Faires of the D.C. chapter.
Once the 1,300-square-foot home is completed, Mrs. Jeter will pay a $300 monthly mortgage to Habitat, and all of the money will be recycled for building another home.
To be considered for a Habitat house or to donate to AU Habitat, call 202/610-2355.

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