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Santa Fe College students help build home with Habitat for Humanity

Crews work to prepare the home for transport on Thursday morning. (Aileyahu Shanes/WUFT News)
Crews work to prepare the home for transport on Thursday morning. (Aileyahu Shanes/WUFT News)

Another house is going to a family in need thanks to Santa Fe College construction management students.

They recently completed their 13th Habitat for Humanity home, and on Thursday, a truck moved it to its permanent location in High Springs.

The home is part of a two-semester project that started in the fall. The project's purpose is to teach students how to build a house while allowing a person in need to affordably purchase a home.

“Part of the educational process they get here is that they will learn the carpentry, they'll learn the design and the construction aspects of this,” said George Tedder, a professor in construction management technology. “They learn to draw this in drafting. They learn about the codes and regulations in our codes class. They come out in the techniques one and two class and build it from the ground up.”

The project includes students from a wide variety of construction-related professions, ranging from construction, carpentry, electrical and plumbing.

“It's a hundred percent student-built,” Tedder said. “Apprentice electricians get the chance to do the wiring, apprentice plumbers will plumb the house. [It’s] just a wonderful opportunity for our students and for the community.”

The students worked together with Habitat for Humanity and the home’s owners and family. The family even joined the students in their completion celebration.

“When we did a topping out ceremony,” Tedder said, “we had a flag up and we blessed the house. The homeowner was here and got the chance to see that we were celebrating the build of their home.”

The homes aren't completely without cost to their new owners. They must achieve 250 hours of “sweat equity.” This means they will have to help in the building of their home, or the homes of others in the Habitat for Humanity home ownership program. After they complete the hours, they will have purchasing power over their house, where they will pay a more affordable mortgage. According to the Habitat for Humanity website, the organization tries to keep the mortgage under 30% of the homeowner’s gross monthly income.

Stevie Doyle, chief outreach and development officer for Habitat for Humanity, said she is proud of the partnership with Santa Fe College.

“This 13th house shows the longevity of this partnership,” Doyle said. “It shows the successfulness of the apprenticeship program here at Santa Fe. It shows the growth, so we are very proud of the longevity of this partnership.”

She says this program is more important now than ever.

“Because of inflation and things like that, it's hard right now,” Doyle said. “We are seeing significant increased costs, significant increased building costs as well."

Doyle said the organization has seen much higher debt-to-income ratios in their homeowner applications. She said Habitat for Humanity has started financial literacy classes to better help community members afford mortgages.

Aileyahu is a reporter for WUFT News who can be reached by calling 352-392-6397 or emailing news@wuft.org.