Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia has marked its third groundbreaking and home build in Lee District’s Groveton Heights neighborhood. On April 27, a cadre of community volunteers and Habitat staff began to clear dilapidated fencing and thick brush on the 7,821 sq. ft. property to make way for a new single family, two-story home with three bedrooms and two baths, according to a release.

Also in attendance were the future Habitat NOVA homeowners and Rev. Jon Smoot, Executive Director for Habitat NOVA, to welcome and thank the volunteers.

Finding affordable properties to construct new homes in Northern Virginia is a challenge; especially vacant land or land with an abandoned home,” Rev. Smoot said. “Fairfax County faces such a tremendous shortage of affordable housing due to sharply increasing real estate costs. We were building two homes on Clayborne Avenue when the Donora Street property came on the market. The owner was enthusiastic about selling to us and in turn, we were thrilled to continue working in the Richmond Highway area.”

Sanchez Palmer Architects are designing the new home and GeoEnv. Engineers will work with Habitat NOVA volunteers and staff to construct the new home to EarthCraft Gold standards — a green building program that promotes energy efficiency, air quality, and water conservation. Through a partnership with GRID Alternatives, the home will also include solar panels to further increase energy efficiency to help maintain the affordability as well as a healthy living environment.

“Our goal is to ensure affordability and sustainability for the Habitat NOVA first-time homebuyer. Thanks to the generosity of our volunteers and donors, we keep our construction costs low. And by being good stewards of our resources, we are proud to provide 30-year mortgages, with a 1 percent down payment and 0 percent interest, to our further Habitat NOVA homeowners,” Smoot said.

For Tesfaye and Tigist, this is a life-changing opportunity for their family. As parents, they are challenged with raising a son and daughter in an overcrowded two-bedroom, one bath apartment. Both teenagers share the master bedroom, with their son sleeping in a converted closet with no windows or ventilation. In addition, their home lacks proper ventilation and many of the kitchen appliances do not work properly; thus causing the family to keep a freezer in one of the bedrooms.

However, more than new amenities, the family is eager to have security, stability, and self-reliance. “The opportunity to build equity and finally provide a home where my wife and children can have privacy and a space to call their own means so much to me,” Tesfaye explained.

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