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Habitat for Heroes Builds Affordable Homes for So-Cal Military Families

The Whitfield family
Habitat for Humanity
The Whitfield family

Over the weekend, the Orange County Habitat for Heroes program, a part of Habitat for Humanity, which has built homes for people in need worldwide, dedicated 18 more affordable new homes in San Juan Capistrano for active military, veterans, disabled veterans and their families, or surviving families of veterans who have lost their lives.

Bryan Whitfield, a Navy veteran, his wife Sara, and their two children, Bryan Jr. and Natalie, were living in a 50+ year old mobile home that has been falling apart. It was not a situation in which Bryan and Sara wanted to continue to raise their children. Their dream was for their children to go and play outside with children in the neighborhood and immerse themselves in a community.

Purchasing a home in the Habitat for Heroes and Foundations for Families community will also help them start saving for their retirement, something they never thought they would be able to do until Habitat for Humanity of Orange County. 'We want nothing more than to give our children a place they can come home to," says Bryan. "It's something that I was fortunate enough to have, so I know what it means to my family to be afforded that same opportunity."


The Whitfields and 17 other families received the keys to their new homes in a traditional Habitat for Humanity dedication ceremony. These homes are the final phase of a development of 27 affordable homes in San Juan Capistrano in the neighborhood on Calle Rolando. They are the first homes in Habitat's history for which some of the homes were specifically marketed to the military community. At the ceremony, which began at 10 a.m., there were ribbon cuttings and then the families opened the doors of their new homes to invited guests who toured the homes. The 18 families join nine families who have already moved into their homes.

'I just want to say thank you,' Diana Eagan, a veteran who received the keys to her new home on Saturday, said in a statement released by Habitat for Humanity. 'Thank you for sharing your resources with those who have less.'

Joan Dolan Ziegler, vice president of communications for Habitat for Humanity Orange County, tells me that this could be just the beginning of a national program to build homes for our veterans. "This is a pilot program and we're hoping it's just the start of many more around the nation," she says. "The entire community - both military and civilian - is excited about what we are doing. Several of the families have a member of the family on deployment, but they will see their new home when they return."

According to Ziegler, the Color Guard from Camp Pendleton was at the ceremony Saturday, and the Sgt. in charge of the color guard, who has been a Marine for nine years, "was so impressed that he's put in a request to move in to our next development."

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County uses non-government donations of funding, materials, professional services and volunteer labor to build simple, decent homes which are sold to qualified low-income families for a 1% down payment, closing costs, and a long-term mortgage. Mortgage payments are recycled to build more Habitat homes. Habitat families contribute 500 hours of 'sweat equity' to the program by building their own home, helping another Habitat family build a home, or working in some other area of the Habitat organization.


This 27-home development is the first community of Habitat homes in Orange County to offer the opportunity for military and veterans and their families, families of those who have given their lives in service to our Country, and local families to purchase affordable homes and live in a safe and welcoming neighborhood. For more information, please visit Habitat OC's website.