New Las Vegas homes raffled — for the right critters

Some of the Las Vegas Valley’s newest homes are on display at Town Square Las Vegas through Sunday.

Maybe you’re in the market for a bungalow with herringboned wood floors on the covered front porch.

Perhaps you’d prefer a contemporary design with a slanted roof, copper flashing and a pool.

Or if energy efficiency’s your thing, check out the place with the solar-powered LED lights.

Any of them could be yours for a $5 raffle ticket.

But there’s a catch: These homes are for Bandit and Baxter.

HomeAid Southern Nevada, a building industry nonprofit that renovates housing for homeless people, will raffle seven pet houses on Sunday for its Project Playhouse fundraiser. The goal is to bring in $25,000 to rehab transitional housing and community centers for the homeless.

The pet houses have been on display since Sept. 1 at Town Square’s central park, inside the shopping center at 6605 Las Vegas Blvd. South. HomeAid will raffle the houses at 7 p.m., capping two weeks of events that included a Sept. 4 pet parade, a Wednesday field trip for 100 children from at-risk neighborhoods, and a Saturday pet adoption event sponsored by Gaudin Ford. A Sunday adoption event runs from noon to 5 p.m.

The idea is to raise both money and awareness, said Caitlin Shea, HomeAid’s executive director.

“Homelessness is not a glamorous topic, and it can be kind of overwhelming for people to understand,” Shea said. “They think of the person on the side of the road with a sign. But this is a chance to let people know the homeless are just like you and me — they lost a job, or had a tremendous illness and lost everything. They have amazing stories, and most of them want to be contributing, successful members of society.”

Homebuilders get creative

HomeAid, which is affiliated with the Southern Nevada Home Builders Association, enlisted five builders: Pardee Homes, Martin-Harris Construction, Richmond American Homes, Woodside Homes and Shea Homes (no relation to Caitlin Shea).

For Pardee, which contributed the dog bungalow and a cat condo with a “Cat in the Hat” theme, participating is both a community service and an opportunity to get creative, said Las Vegas Division President Klif Andrews. The construction team meets months in advance to brainstorm themes, and their houses include touches such as handmade pillows and rugs.

“We really enjoy being able to give back to the Las Vegas Valley, and we always enjoy the process,” Andrews said. “The creativity and the design are really fun for our team.”

Shea Homes spokesman John Diaz called his company’s lighthouse-themed cat home a “true team effort.”

“From overall theme, design and construction, our team comes together,” he said. “This is a fun project, and knowing the money raised from these houses goes to help homeless families and kids in Southern Nevada, we couldn’t be happier.”

The builders’ efforts didn’t go unnoticed Saturday.

“It’s gorgeous. I wanna live in it,” said Las Vegan April Douglas, who placed a ticket on Woodside’s contemporary house for her Australian shepherd, Chaos. “These are awesome-looking doghouses, and it’s for a good cause, so that’s a bonus.”

That cause is what lured in mother and daughter Suzi and Elisabeth Byrnes of Las Vegas. Suzi Byrnes emptied her wallet and put $50 in tickets on a cat tree for the family’s cat, Willow.

“They told us how the money was being given to homeless people, and we really, really wanted to give,” said Elisabeth Byrnes, 10. “At my elementary school, there are kids who are challenged. I feel bad for them and for people out on the road.”

Added Suzi Byrnes: “It’s really important for us to think about how we give. I love being a member of the Las Vegas community. There are so many giving, wonderful people, and we love being a part of it.”

Helping pets and people

If it seems unusual to serve homeless people by helping homeless pets, Shea can explain.

Project Playhouse launched in 2009 as a children’s playhouse raffle. But at 100 square feet — the size of a typical local guest bedroom — they were difficult to move and place in the city’s small back yards.

Switching to smaller pet houses made for easier moving, and it included households that didn’t have small kids, Shea said. It also gave a nod to the thousands of pets who ended up homeless in Nevada’s foreclosure crisis.

HomeAid made the change in 2011.

In the process, the nonprofit has helped thousands of local humans.

HomeAid Southern Nevada renovated, rehabbed or built more than 100,000 square feet of projects that affected the lives of more than 2,000 people from its start in 2004 through the end of 2014, Shea said. By the end of 2015, it will have improved or built another 40,000 square feet and served 2,000 more people.

One of its biggest projects was the 2014 remodel of a drop-in center at 4981 Shirley St. for the Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth. HomeAid volunteers gave $275,000 in in-kind time and materials to renovate existing space and build a 2,600-square-foot addition that more than doubled the center’s size, to 4,600 square feet. The renovations enabled the partnership to serve 40 percent more visitors.

Proceeds from Sunday’s raffle will go to two projects: renovation of health and human services nonprofit WestCare’s Women’s and Children’s Campus at 5659 Duncan Drive, and remodeling of apartments at Calcaterra, which provides transitional housing for the homeless through Neighborhood Housing Services of Southern Nevada.

At WestCare, improvements include roof repairs, new windows, fresh paint, masonry patches and updated lighting fixtures. Upgrades at Calcaterra range from new floors to relaid stucco.

Raffle tickets will be available at HomeAid’s booth at Town Square’s central park Saturday through 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. through the raffle at 7 p.m. Winners don’t need to be present. People can also buy tickets by calling Caitlin Shea at 702-561-0367.

“Making our community one of the best communities includes helping those who need it most,” Shea said. “You’re not just potentially winning a cool, fancy pet house. You’re changing someone’s life. You’re helping us spread awareness about homelessness, and you’re helping people who have become homeless have a second chance. Every little bit helps, and the impact can be tremendous.”

Contact Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com. Find her on Twitter: @_JRobison

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