Hammering Out the Gift of Homeownership

SCE volunteers lend a hand to future Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles homeowners.

December 01, 2014 | By Susan Cox

The Southern California Edison (SCE) volunteers who recently showed up in Lynwood didn’t know Zhi Min Tan, but that didn’t stop them from working alongside the Vietnamese massage therapist to help him and his future neighbors realize their dream of homeownership.

“This whole experience has been a tremendous help to us during one of the most difficult times in our lives,” said Tan. “The compassion of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles staff and volunteers has opened our hearts and given us joy. I am very thankful for everything.” 

With his new house slated to be completed and move-in ready by next summer, Tan, his wife, and his 83-year-old mother, who is in a wheelchair, will be able to move out of their cramped, one-bedroom apartment and into a three-bedroom, one-story house complete with handicap accessibility through Habitat LA.

In all, seven qualified families are on target to purchase homes next summer. And on a recent Saturday, SCE Transmission and Distribution volunteers painted houses, applied siding and finished rooftops at different construction sites in Lynwood alongside Habitat LA staff and volunteers.

This year, Edison International, the parent company of SCE, awarded a $50,000 grant to Habitat LA. A total of $37,500 was designated for the Lynwood Neighborhood Revitalization Initiative, and $12,500 directed to the Family Investment Program. 

“At Edison International, we believe that our success hinges on the strength of the communities we serve,” said Tammy Tumbling, director of Philanthropy and Community Investment at SCE. “To help keep our communities strong, we partner with organizations like Habitat for Humanity that provide vital services and other civic engagement programs to help the underserved. Last year, we donated $19.7 million to nonprofit organizations and 85 percent of those funds targeted the underserved.”

Habitat LA counts on the generosity of contributions, donations and partnerships with different companies to help achieve its mission to create “a world where everyone has a decent place to live.”

“Edison is a great partner because they provide financial support, which is very important, and enables us to build more homes,´ said Erin Rank, president/CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles. “The company also provides volunteer support. Eighty percent of these homes are built by volunteers.

“Edison volunteers have come out eight times this year and have great enthusiasm and do great work,” added Rank. “Edison also has skilled labor. That’s always an added bonus. Sometimes the electrical work that needs to be done can be done more safely and faster by Edison volunteers.” 

Habitat LA requires its homeowners to help with the construction of their own houses as well as the homes of other Habitat LA homebuyers by completing up to 500 hours of “sweat equity.” They must also complete a series of courses that cover budgeting, real estate taxes, conflict resolution with neighbors and emergency preparedness. 

“Everything homeowners need to know to be responsible and successful  in their homes,” Rank said.

Once construction of the houses is completed and all permits are approved by the city of Lynwood, each pre-selected homebuyer will be required to close escrow on their new home. Afterward, Habitat LA will hold a dedication ceremony where each homeowner will be presented with the keys to their new house.  

Tan and his family can’t wait. 

Topics: People