Circus helps Habitat for Humanity build residential housing unit

Published: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 12:00 am
Last Modified: Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013 - 6:44 am

With a boost from circus folk, Sacramento’s Habitat for Humanity volunteers began a new 14-home project Wednesday in south Sacramento.

The project on Indian Lane near Florin Road has been in the works for 10 years. Officials of the nonprofit group say they will reach a benchmark of building their 100th home in Sacramento County with this project.

On Wednesday, the Habitat workers got an assist from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. Seven volunteers from the traveling circus helped with construction while 10 others showed up later to provide some midday entertainment.

‘‘How about we show them something that’s amazing?’’ said the circus’s Boss Clown, 26-year-old Taylor Albin, as he kicked off the show for dozens of volunteers, homeowners and their kids who donned plastic yellow hardhats and red clown noses, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity.

A half dozen clowns wore neon-colored costumes, accented with sparkly fabric, sequins and signature red noses as they entertained the kids with juggling acts, pulling a few brave ones out of the crowd to dance with them.

‘‘It’s always a really special treat when we as the performers get to come out into the community and help out in any way that we can,’’ said Albin, who’s been with Ringling Bros. for four years.

The show’s red tour, which will stop for four days in Sacramento starting Friday, is called ‘‘Built to Amaze!’’

‘‘It’s a construction theme show, so we thought, why not actually reach out and help with local charities and organizations that do just that?’’ Ablin said. ‘‘They build amazement.’’

Albin said the idea of volunteering with local organizations along their tour was relatively new but they planned to do it at local Habitat for Humanity affiliates throughout the rest of their tour.

‘‘I’ve never done anything like this before,’’ said 25-year-old dancer Deborath Araujo from Brazil. ‘‘I think I’m going to be better at my job if I do something like this; it will bring me closer to people who are going to watch the show.’’

About 20 Habitat for Humanity volunteers were also there working on the four homes that are under construction. These four are scheduled to be completed by early December, according to Sacramento Habitat for Humanity CEO Ken Cross.

‘‘We’ve had zero foreclosures in 28 years,’’ said Cross. Wednesday also marked the 28thanniversary of Sacramento Habitat for Humanity.

Each home in the Indian Lane project will sell for approximately $200,000 with a zero interest rate and no down payment. Seven of the 14 homes have already been assigned to families, and the rest are close to being assigned, Cross said.

‘‘We have a lengthy selection process for our families,’’ he said. Each family must demonstrate their need and perform 100 ‘‘sweat equity’’ hours with Habitat for Humanity before they can be considered for home ownership.

Sweat equity hours mean that the families work with volunteers to build their own homes and others in their neighborhood before they move in.

All of the three- or four-bedroom single-family homes in the Indian Lane neighborhood will also be LEED certified, meaning that they meet certain sustainability requirements that will reduce their average energy expenses to about $10 per month, according to officials with Habitat for Humanity.

‘‘It’s really phenomenal because we’re working with low-income families on a very limited budget,’’ said the organization’s manager of communications and volunteer services, Laine Himmelmann. ‘‘So to be able to add that sustainability factor and make it affordable for them really helps them out a lot.’’

The houses come equipped with solar panels, drought-tolerant landscaping and planter gardens in the backyard, where residents can grow fresh produce. The neighborhood is across the street from a Regional Transit light-rail station and near Burbank High School.

One resident who already has laid claim to one of Habitat’s homes on Indian Lane by putting in 170 sweat equity hours is 36-year-old Sair Roh Thien. She and her husband, Phuc, will move in to one of the three-bedroom houses on Indian Lane with her 6- and 8-year-old sons.

Thien moved to the United States from Vietnam in 2004 and is living in an overcrowded south Sacramento apartment without a working bathroom.

‘‘I am very happy,’’ said Thien as she stood across the street from the site of her soon-to-be-built home. ‘‘I am thankful to Habitat for this opportunity.’’

Call The Bee’s Brittany Torrez, (916) 321-1103.

Read more articles by Brittany Torrez

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