Catholics help Austin family build new home
By Enedelia J. Obregón
Yurenah DeLeon has one wish for her August birthday — to turn 6 in her family’s new home.
Thanks to dozens of Catholic volunteers at Austin Habitat for Humanity, the youngster will get her wish.
The DeLeon home was blessed May 14 by Father Alberto Borruel, pastor at San José Parish in Austin, where the family worships and where Eloy and Alicia DeLeon were married 15 years ago. The official dedication is June 25.
The DeLeon home marks the 22nd house built through Catholic Build, which is also celebrating its 20th anniversary. This is the first two-story house built by the Catholic volunteers, who work every weekend for several months beginning in January every year, said Tom Helmer, who oversees Catholic Build.
“These lots are narrow and to get the living space they needed, we have to go up,” Helmer said.
Helmer said the design was altered a bit to give the
DeLeon house a unique look.
“We wanted to make this house their house,” he said. “Everybody should have their own house.”
For the couple, having their own home is a great gift for their three daughters.
“I can give my daughters a happy home,” said Eloy, who has lived in Austin for 17 years. “We will finally have enough space for the five of us as well as some privacy.”
Privacy is at the top of the list for Valeria, who is 13. Each girl will have a small bedroom. The modest house also has a master bedroom, a living area, kitchen, dining area and built-in washer and dryer connections.
Most importantly, it will have a backyard where the girls can play, a critical feature for Alicia and for Yurenah.
The apartment complexes in which they have lived had no play area for children, Alicia said. There was also a lot of traffic and she constantly feared her children might get hurt; not to mention the outrageous rental costs.
“A one-bedroom, one-bath costs between $900 to $1,000,” she said. “We were very uncomfortable.”
Eloy said every time a lease came up, renewing it meant a big hike in rent. Finding something affordable meant looking outside Austin and Travis County, but they didn’t want to uproot the girls from their schools. The three attend KIP charter schools, although Valeria is considering San Juan Diego Catholic High School next year.
“We looked everywhere,” Alicia said. “But there was nothing we could afford for all of us.”
Eloy has supported his family working for a local painting company the last 12 years. Alicia works as a stay-at-home mom.
Two years ago, they applied for a Habitat home. They took classes on personal finance, budgeting and home maintenance. Habitat homeowners are required to pay back the money it cost to build their home so other homes can be built. Eloy also put in his “sweat equity” helping build houses for others in the Habitat program before work began on his family’s home.
“This will give our daughters security and stability,” Eloy said. “That is very important.”
The cost of building the DeLeon home was about $85,000 –– far below the price of building a similar house in Austin. Costs are kept low thanks to the work of volunteers who cut lumber, install baseboards, help build roofs, paint and dig ditches. Professionals are in charge of electricity, plumbing and gas lines. Many professionals donate their time.
A little more than $47,000 has been raised so far by the Catholic Build. Anyone wishing to donate can do so at https://austinhabitat.fundly.com/2016-catholic-build.