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Habitat for Humanity hands over keys to new home in Jurupa Valley

June 5, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Connie Olivarez waited six months to see her new home. On Tuesday, Habitat for Humanity Riverside handed her the keys to a home once considered unlivable.

"We went through a lot to try and get the home, but I am so happy. It's like a dream," Olivarez said.

It was a dream that seemed impossible after Olivarez's husband died of cancer, leaving her with three young children. Her daughter, Crystal Espinoza, said she remembers how her mother struggled to support them.

"She went out there working two jobs," Espinoza said. "She would get off at three o'clock and straight to another job at five. She would pick my brothers and I up from school and go back to work."

Last August, volunteers spent hours tearing the house apart. The property was considered an eyesore and magnet for crime. Now it's once again a home, thanks in large part to a $130,000 grant.

Habitat for Humanity was able to purchase 16 homes with a grant from Wells Fargo Bank, six of the homes purchased in the neighborhood alone, which were up for remodeling.

"We were chosen as the recipient of this market priority grant because we are focusing on the entire area which the impact of course is much higher than if you focus on one house," said Karen Roberts of Habitat for Humanity Riverside.

The organization targeted Jurupa Valley for its neighborhood revitalization program. Part of the initiative includes financial counseling for new homeowners.

Olivarez said the lessons she learned helped her clean up her credit and pay off debt.

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