A partnership between the California Department of Veterans Affairs Residential Enriched Neighborhood Program (CalVet REN), the city of Palmdale, and Homes 4 Families Veteran Enriched Neighborhoods® that provides homes to military veterans, will be featured Sunday in an episode of HGTV Channel’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” “This is an amazing partnership and a wonderful opportunity for veterans and their families,” said CalVet Deputy Secretary Theresa Gunn. “Each family will discover the pride of owning a home and building a community. We are thrilled to be a part of their “American dream.”
A total of 56 homes, available to low-income families (80% or less of the area’s median income) will be built in the city of Palmdale in northern Los Angeles County. The families who ultimately purchase these homes have a personal stake that goes beyond making a monthly mortgage payment. The Olivares and Merlos families, featured in Sunday’s episode, will soon own the first two completed homes and are required to participate as homeowners well before they move in.
Through 500 hours of sweat equity per family, the REN program requires future homeowners to work on the other home builds in the neighborhood, participate in educational programs, services, and trauma-informed care provided by Homes 4 Families, which are specifically designed to empower veterans to reintegrate into civilian life and move up the economic ladder. Classes include instruction in financial literacy, credit counseling, budgeting, simple home maintenance, and more. The Homes 4 Families Enriched Neighborhoods® program is an outcome-proven model that assists families prior to, and long after, they move into their new home. Homes 4 Families also recruits volunteers to build the homes and is also the builder.
“We are honored to partner with CalVet and Palmdale in building a 56-home community for our veterans. These first two homes built with Extreme Makeover are a testament to the Palmdale community’s love for their veterans, as you will see from the number of volunteers who came out to join us,” said Donna Deutchman, CEO of Homes 4 Families.
Each home will have two or three bedrooms, two baths, and a two-car garage. They will be built to meet the specific needs of the veteran, including opportunities for safety modifications such as curbless shower entrances, seats, grab bars. The homes will have tankless water heaters and electrical outlets 18 inches off the floor, for easier accessibility and to relieve pain from bending or stooping.
The community will have a children’s playground, community garden, and each home will include at least one fruit tree. All 56 home sites have been graded, certified, and final utility plans were recently approved. The first part of the development will include 16 homes, and the remaining homes will be built in groups of 12 as veterans purchase them.
CalVet provides the construction loans for the project and the veteran homeowners must meet the requirements of the CalVet Home Loan Program to be eligible for the loan. The city of Palmdale provided the land at no cost and contributed an additional $50,000 per home. Homes 4 Families raises the balance of the money needed to build them.
“In all my years in local government, there have only been a few projects that brought me to tears,” said Palmdale City Manager J.J. Murphy. “Putting some sweat equity into these homes with other Palmdale community members is a proud memory that will last a lifetime. Palmdale is truly a patriotic community that honors their veterans.”
“It was amazing to see the community come together to show how much we care about our veterans, not just with our words but with our hands and actions,” said Palmdale Mayor Steve Hofbauer. “Seeing people of all ages and walks of life come together for something like this was heartwarming.”
The CalVet REN program and Homes 4 Families Veteran Enriched Neighborhoods® have completed two of the five pilot communities since the program’s inception in 2012, with 12 homes in Sylmar and 78 in Santa Clarita.
Check out “Extreme Makeover” on HGTV on Sunday, March 15 at 8 p.m. It also is available for streaming through the HGTV GO App.
The Merlos and Oliveras families could not be more appreciative to soon have a safe, affordable home in an all-veteran community. We do need your continued support and help to get them moved in as soon as possible and you can contribute today by going to our website and donating or even coming out to volunteer!
For additional information on the CalVet REN program and other veterans benefits visit, www.calvet.ca.gov.
Visit www.cityofpalmdale.org for information on the city of Palmdale.
Visit www.homes4families.org for information on Homes 4 Families.
Visit www.hgtv.com/shows/extreme-makeover-home-edition for information on “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”