Nearly 500 people came to the Builders Ball, an annual fundraiser for the Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita valleys at the Sheraton Universal on Friday, to support the cause of local veterans.
The event, which was emceed by singer/actress Melora Hardin of “The Office” fame, and chaired by Doreen Shine, raised more than $250,00 for a unique, first-of-its-kind housing project that is planning 87 homes for veterans in Santa Clarita.
“That money is going to build at least a couple of home for veterans,” said Donna Deutchman, CEO of Habitat for Humanity San Fernando/Santa Clarita Valley.
The project, which just received an OK from the city’s Planning Commission, is known as the Habitat for Heroes.
Habitat for Humanity SFV/SCV is building two veteran “enriched” communities of new production homes in collaboration with the California Department of Veteran Affairs in the coming months.
“The Builder’s Ball 2013 was the greatest builders’ ball ever, thanks to our chair, Doreen Shine, and our honorees, the Goldmans and the Southern California Gas Co., and the overwhleming generosity of the Santa Clarita community,” Deutchman said.
The most exciting project is going to be the construction of the first of their kind Veteran Villages, featuring 87 homes in Santa Clarita, and 12 in Sylmar, officials said.
To that end, officials with Citibank presented a check for $50,000 in support of the project, and officials with the Citibank Foundation presented a check for $60,000.
As a few of the servicemen who were approved for the homes talked about the impact having their own place would have on their lives and the lives of their families, generous donors pledged money and bought donated items with the proceeds going to help construct homes.
More than $150,000 was pledged in donations alone, before the auction started, not including the money that was raised by the dinner’s $225 ticket price for the Sheraton Universal ball.
The event also honored Carl and Jeri Goldman, co-owners of KHTS AM 1220, and The Southern California Gas Company, with awards for their support of the cause.
“We are aware that the need for housing for veterans is great, but where there is a great need there are also great opportunities,” Deutchman said. “We are very pleased that this collaboration will allow Santa Clarita to establish itself as a community for veterans.”
Deutchman, who sits on the Governor’s Interagency Council on Veterans, has been working with the council’s subcommittee on veteran housing needs and the group has identified a need for affordable housing options for veterans and their families.
This Habitat for Humanity program is specifically designed to help those low- income veterans and their families enter into the housing market in California by using not only their income, but also their “sweat equity” to build equity in their new home.
Each year, Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV holds its premier event in the spring, celebrating the contributions and accomplishments of two corporations or civic leaders.
These leaders are honored with the Hammer of Hope award.
The award pays tribute to their work to improve the economic development and homeownership opportunities of low-income working people, including veterans, hospital workers, service industry members and so on. This year the event will focus on Habitat for Humanity SF/SCV’s work with veterans through the Habitat for Heroes program.
Habitat is already accepting applications for the new community which will also provide veteran families with social services specifically tailored to suit the needs of veterans, especially those recently returning from the “wars on terror,” as well as services for older vets of prior conflicts.
The group has more than 60 applications from local veterans. To date, the project has completed 10 home repairs/disability modifications since November 2011, and the organization plans to complete three more this year.
The veteran communities are built in collaboration with the California Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Habitat for Heroes program is sponsored by the Southern California Gas Co., in partnership with KHTS AM-1220.