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Habitat for Humanity plans 24 new homes in Henderson

Habitat for Humanity is planning to build 24 new homes in Henderson between 2016 and 2018, a step the city hopes will help revitalize one of its oldest and poorest neighborhoods.

The homes would be in the Pittman area, just east of Boulder Highway and south of Sunset Road.

One of the two original townsites in present-day Henderson, Pittman was settled in 1929 to provide housing for workers on what was then called Boulder Dam.

A Henderson Redevelopment Agency report more than a decade ago found Pittman included some “blighted” areas and recommended working with Habitat for Humanity, among other groups, to improve it.

A recent city report said Pittman still has a large low-income population.

Habitat has already built six homes in the neighborhood, with the last one completed in August. It’s planning to build four more between February and fall of 2016, executive director Meg Delor said.

And in one of its most ambitious Southern Nevada projects yet, Habitat applied last week for the zoning changes and other approvals it would need to build another 20 homes on about 2 acres of land.

That would bring the number of homes in the Pittman area to 30. Delor said Habitat hopes to begin construction on the group of 20 homes late next year and finish them by mid-2018.

Records show the city of Henderson has given Habitat $110,000 to buy land for the six homes already built in Pittman and has been working on another $275,000 in funding for more land.

“Henderson has truly been a partner in this project, in this area,” Delor said.

Since its founding in 1991, Habitat for Humanity Las Vegas has built 105 homes in Clark County. The families who live in them own the homes and pay no-interest mortgages capped at 30 percent of their gross incomes.

To be eligible to apply, families must make between 30 and 80 percent of the median income for their area and must have lived in the county for at least a year. They also have to meet some financial standards and be legal permanent U.S. residents.

Once approved, a family has to put in 300 hours of “sweat equity” toward their own home for every adult resident. At least half of that work must be on a job site helping to build their own home or other Habitat homes.

Residents also take 50 hours of classes in topics including financial literacy, home maintenance and how to avoid predatory lending. Delor said that’s especially important because many Habitat residents are first-time homeowners, and poor people are more susceptible to shady lenders.

Up to 100 hours can be earned through working in one of Habitat’s retail outlets — called ReStore — or donated by family and friends. Even kids can help: An “A” in school counts for an hour, and a “B” is half an hour.

Delor said the new homes will be small by modern Las Vegas standards — a three-bedroom home will be about 1,200 square feet, plus a garage, for example. That helps keep the homes affordable, and building smaller homes close together means Habitat can help more families.

Habitat likes to build a group of homes in a cluster to create a “community within a community,” Delor said.

Residents and Habitat also try to improve the areas around their homes through such efforts as a late October community cleanup in the Pittman area that included painting a church and sprucing up three houses. Wynn Las Vegas donated $50,000 toward the work.

Among those already living in Habitat homes — and those hoping to be — are retirees and people with working-class jobs: Clark County School District bus drivers, casino porters and housekeepers, waitresses and more.

“The need in the Las Vegas area is so great,” Delor said.

Contact Eric Hartley at ehartley@reviewjournal.com or 702-550-9229. Find him on Twitter: @ethartley.

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