MILWAUKEE — Ten brand new homes in five days. That’s Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity’s goal as part of its annual “Build-a-Thon.” This year, the project has the backing of the Brew Crew’s star slugger.
More than a million swings of a hammer, 200,000 nails and 8,000 hours of labor go into building the rough frame for 10 new homes on the city’s north side. Starting Monday, May 14th and for the next five days, 250 volunteers will work near 17th and Locust for the organization’s blitz build.
“A hundred AmeriCorps members have joined us from 15 states across the country. There’ll be walls, the roof, everything. Windows will be installed. It’s a fun environment, doing something really good for the community and for the homeowner,” Habitat’s Executive Director Brian Sonderman said.
The homes will go to ten Milwaukee families. Marquitta Smith is one of the deserving recipients, who now calls herself a first-time homeowner. It’s an opportunity she had only dreamed to get. “I always lived in an apartment, and now, I’m buying a house. I’m so excited. It’s going to be four bedrooms, two whole baths, an upstairs and downstairs,” Smith said.
“They don’t have to pay a down payment or any interest on their loan, but they invest hundreds of hours building their home and their neighbor’s homes,” Sonderman said.
To complete the project, Habitat got some big help from a heavy hitter this year. The Brewers Community Foundation and Ryan Braun donated $50,000. “One of our areas of interest is basic needs and affordable housing is clearly a basic need,”Cecilia Gore, Brewers Community Foundation Executive Director said.
That money will pay for all the materials to build one of the 10 properties, which happens to be the one that Smith and her three kids will soon call home. “I’m so excited. It’s overwhelming and it’s a blessing,” Smith said.
Milwaukee’s Habitat for Humanity has been building homes in the area for 27 years. It will break ground on its 500th home next month.