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'Sweat equity' at work here

photo
[Times photo: Brian Tietz]
Israel McKenna attaches steel to the frame of his future three-bedroom, two-bath home Saturday. The 14 families who have been approved work on the homes four evenings a week and all day Saturday in exchange for discounts on materials and low-interest mortgages. They can't move in until all 14 homes have been built.

By JORGE SANCHEZ

© St. Petersburg Times,
published June 7, 2001


Owners and volunteers begin building the first 14 of 50 homes. Professional contractors are adding 49 rental homes.

INVERNESS -- Work is progressing at Heron Woods, as the first group of 14 families, partners in the "self-help" homebuilding effort, began framing the first home there over the weekend.

Heron Woods will provide 50 homes for low-income families and 49 rental homes when it is complete in about two years. The subdivision is off Turner Camp Road on Melody Street.

On Saturday, members of the 14 families approved for new homes put up the frame of Israel McKenna's house. Also working were 10 volunteers from the Inverness Church of God's Men of Action group. The homes are framed with steel beams.

"Once they've finished that one, they'll go on to the next one until all 14 homes are completed," said Maureen Wilson, director of Florida Low Income Housing Inc., which owns the subdivision.

"They can't move in until all 14 houses are completed," she said.

Construction began on surface roads this year and the Heron Woods community center was finished in March. The subdivision also will have a nature park and walking trail.

Wilson said the work on the rental units is further along, because professional contractors are building them. "We're in the process of putting up kitchen cabinets in one of the units," Wilson said.

- Information from Times files was used in this story.

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